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Change through Crisis? Solidarity and Desolidarization in Germany and Europe

Germany as well as other European countries suffered from various crises over the last decade. Those crises were far-reaching in scope and partly interacted.

With the outbreak of the Financial Crisis reaching the European continent in 2007 and the consequent Euro Crisis distributional conflicts within as well as between countries emerged. By questioning the distribution of responsibility along with the takeover of costs through the diverse levels of the European Multi level System social cohesion was challenged. Moreover, the decisions that were made over the course of the financial crisis, most of them on the international level, were conducted in a non-transparent manner and without the approval of European citizens or national parliaments. Those practices led to the occurrence of a legitimation crisis within the European Union.

In addition, the European migration crisis beginning by the end of 2014 challenged the European community, too. In many states solidarity between host societies and refugees eroded and conflicts between the countries over the redistribution of asylum seekers arose. This led to a linking of sociocultural conflicts with economic concerns In contrast, vast sums of money and material donations as well as high extents of volunteer engagement for the refugees showed signs of social cohesion within societies.

The research project Change through Crisis? Solidarity and Desolidarization in Germany and Europe, in short Solikris, covers this situation from two pivotal assumptions:First, even if the separate crises are not inevitably connected in a causal manner, their effects overlap in regard to society, politics and the relationship between European Union member states. Second, all the crises are linked by the fact that they demand solidarity and cohesion between individuals, social groups and states.

On the one hand challenges like this can diminish solidarity. On the other hand those challenges can also activate or strengthen solidarity. Against this background the central research question of Solikris reads as follows: Which positive and negative effects dothe diverse jointly working crises have on solidarity within and between the countries of the European community?

The substantial orientation of Solikris focuses on political and democratic solidarity allowing for political legitimacy and institutional trust. Furthermore, changes of solidarity between social groups, to be more precise (i) between citizens and refugees and (ii) between generations, will be analyzed.

To study all these processes of solidarization and desolidarization numerous studies will be conducted and in the end will be aggregated to an overall outcome.

The aim of the project is to improve our knowledge on solidarity and its development in times of crises and to capture those aspects which constitute the greatest challenges for democracies. For this purpose, Solikris will host lecture series, publish policy briefs as well as academic papers and generated data sets. In addition, the project team will collect data via the GESIS-Panel.

The studies in the continuum between solidarization and desolidarization will be conducted in four working packages (WP 1-4) and will be supported by a working package concerning data work and another one focusing on dissemination (WP 5-6).

Project duration: 01.12.2017-30.11.2020

Lead: Prof. Dr. Alexia Katsanidou

Applicants: Dr. Heiko Giebler, Prof. Dr. Jale Tosun, Prof. Dr. Bernhard Weßels

Sponsored by: Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF)

BMBF funding line: Zusammenhalt stärken in Zeiten von Krisen und Umbrüchen

Consortium: GESIS, Universität Heidelberg, Wissenschaftszentrum Berlin für Sozialforschung

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