Work Package III – University of Copenhagen

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This work package (WP) was concerned with the re-configuration of the European socio-political and cultural space in facing the challenge of complex global diversity and shifting patterns of globalisation and post-globalisation. The WP’s research was situated within the broad question of how the relatively unitary socio-cultural constellation of the European nation-state is challenged with regard to the crisis of ideologies, increased religious pluralism, pluri-lingualism, immigration and globalised media technology and consumption. Complex diversity refers to a context of cultural representation and social identification that is marked by a broad and composite – often competing and difficult-to-reconcile - range of sources (Benhabib 2002). One task was to trace back these sources in the history of social and political thought. Another task was to survey the at that time current renegotiation of the validity of the European cultural and ideational heritage that is challenged by changing patterns of global order. The overall issue was whether the contemporary processes and patterns of global change in the domains of economy, law and society were accompanied by and to some extent were also driven by changes in underlying conceptions of culture in Europe.

The WP took its start from the difficulties of European national societies to accommodate complex diversity in the new global constellation (Kriesi et al 2006). We moved from a phase where Europe could perceive itself as an agent of globalization to a new phase where Europe needs to take account of its own decline of political and cultural hegemony. How did historically rooted ideologies, justifications and identities adapt to this transformation of Europe’s political role in the word? How did the ‘decline of Europe’ find expression in new cultural representations, discourses and identities. A particular emphasis of empirical research was placed on the collective societal interpretations and reactions to the at that time current political and economic crisis. Contemporary crisis is manifested in a politicized struggle over Europe’s perceived decline and reorientation in the world (Statham and Trenz 2012). Reactions to crisis give rise to numerous internal frictions with heightened media attention and salience of ethnic and cultural cleavages in Europe. At the same time, we hypothesised that confrontation with the present crisis contributes to the reconfiguration of this social and cultural space facilitating, for instance, transcultural encounters and exchange of meanings.

Sub-project in work package III

By analysing crisis contestation in the public and media sphere we mapped the socio-cultural and identity cleavage in relation to ongoing political struggles and the challenges to the welfare state. To capture the transnational (European, global and post-global) character of the social and cultural responses to crisis, our project required methodological innovation in the development and application of new comparative research methods.

This WP innovated by following a cutting-edge interdisciplinary approach grounded in the humanities but applicable to both  political and legal analysis. For that purpose, we conducted one large scale social survey of ‘cultural  confrontations and encounters in response to crisis’ combined with a comparative and historical survey of ‘changing citizens’ allegiance, loyalty and ideologies’. By underlying both qualitative and quantitative indicators (e.g. standard and special  Eurobarometer surveys, national opinion poll surveys, qualitative interviews, ethnographic research, text and media discourse analysis) we measured the forms of resilience and possible resistance of affected groups of citizens  (e.g. young people or women) in response to crisis. Resilience was measured in the use by particular individuals or groups (for instance young people) of rights of free movement and citizenship (which again are granted by the legal  and political framework of the EU, see WP 2). Resistance was measured in the form of civil society mobilization or communication, e.g. through new media technologies. We thus focused on two interlinked societal processes of  mobility and mobilization, which were seen as a) reactions/responses to the observed macroeconomic (WP 1) and legal and politico-legal changes (WP2) and b) have a direct impact on the ongoing reconfiguration of the European  economic and political space.