Citizens' activism and solidarity movements in contemporary Europe

  • Siim, Birte (PI)
  • Saarinen, Aino (CoI)
  • Krasteva, Anna (CoI)

    Project Details


    Right wing populism (the Radical Right) is a contested, multi-dimensional and contextual phenomenon. One of the crucial elements of the populist discourse is the rejection of diversity, immigration, Islam and LGBT rights; the political leaders have openly its political leaders expressed openly exclusionist, xenophobic, racist positions. More recently one part of the Right wing populist discourse and self-portraying has increasingly emphasised itself as a combatant for the defence of western values and norms - freedom of opinion (the affairs of caricatures of Mohamed, first in Denmark, recently in France - Charlie Hebdo), equality women-men, laicité, sexual freedom. If the major part of Right wing populism aims at changing the regime, another part increasingly presents itself as a protector of western democracies and welfare states, even minorities’ human and fundamental rights. The dynamic transformations of the political landscape, deconstruction of welfare states and the strengthening of exclusive nationalisms across Europe following the immigration and refugee crisis create new challenges to democratic counterforces and to their strategies and practices to combat Othering and exclusion. Additional difficulty rises in the paradox that part of the democratic opposition to Right wing populism defending cultural diversity, migration and social inclusion, sometimes share somewhat similar criticisms concerning the deficits in the accountability of political and economic elites and decreasing representatively and legitimacy) of representative European politics. In brief, hate speech and hate acts flourish and increase around Europe, even in regimes which have previously been characterized as tolerant and inclusive (Widfeldt 2015).

    This project aims at theorising these political challenges and paradoxes by exploring the democratic counterforces -- pro-diversity and equity/equality forces -- in Europe, historically and today, in ten national contexts: Austria, Bulgaria, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Italy Slovenia and the UK. In macro-level analyses, the political transformations will be approached within diverse political regimes characterized by liberal democracy; on-going transition from post-socialist/communist rule toward democratic and inclusive rule; or combat against fascist and nazi xenophobic legacies. In Europe and the European Union in crisis, growing divisions between north and south, east and west will be investigated as well. Furthermore, attention will be paid to the relationships between civic actors, both at the grass roots and in relation with the local and national state and the Union. Mobilization of ‘victim´ actors facing discrimination but struggling for their equal rights as citizens and residents will also be among key themes.
    Short titleCitizens' Activism
    Effective start/end date12/06/201501/09/2018


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