Work Package III – University of Copenhagen

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This work package (WP) is 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 is 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 is to trace back these sources in the history of social and political thought. Another task is to survey the current renegotiation of the validity of the European cultural and ideational heritage that is challenged by changing patterns of global order. The overall issue is whether the contemporary processes and patterns of global change in the domains of economy, law and society are accompanied by and to some extent are also driven by changes in underlying conceptions of culture in Europe.

The WP takes its start from the difficulties of European national societies to accommodate complex diversity in the new global constellation (Kriesi et al 2006). We move 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 do historically rooted ideologies, justifications and identities adapt to this transformation of Europe’s political role in the word? How does the ‘decline of Europe’ find expression in new cultural representations, discourses and identities. A particular emphasis of empirical research will be placed on the collective societal interpretations and reactions to the 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 hypothesise 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 can map 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 requires methodological innovation in the development and application of new comparative research methods.

This WP innovates by following a cutting-edge interdisciplinary approach grounded in the humanities but applicable to both  political and legal analysis. For that purpose, we will conduct 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 will measure the forms of resilience and possible resistance of affected groups of citizens  (e.g. young people or women) in response to crisis. Resilience is 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 is measured in the form of civil society mobilization or communication, e.g. through new media technologies. We thus focus on two interlinked societal processes of  mobility and mobilization, which are 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.