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H2020

SOLIDUS Report Summary

Project ID: 649489
Funded under: H2020-EU.3.6.

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - SOLIDUS (SOLIDUS: “Solidarity in European societies: empowerment, social justice and citizenship”)

Reporting period: 2015-06-01 to 2016-05-31

Summary of the context and overall objectives of the project

The current crisis has indirectly contributed to questioning the efficiency of financial markets and democratic institutions at European and national levels. Taking into account the Standard Eurobarometer on Public Opinion in the European Union since 2007, that analyses among others how Europeans perceive their political institutions, both national governments and parliaments, and the EU and its institutions, trust levels of the European citizens about these institutions are still alarmingly low. Trust levels that European citizens have to European Union decreased more than 25 points from 2007 to 2014; similar results can be observed in regards to the National Institutions. However, trust in the European Union has strengthened again in the last two years, but still so far from its highest level since the Standard Eurobarometer survey of 2007. This situation is jeopardizing the European project while at the same time a lively public debate about the meaning of European identity is taking place across Europe. Several social scientists as Alain Touraine (2007) or Erik Collin Wright (2010) have already argued that the social and economic inequalities in the new global order are contributing to civil social reactions, based on solidarity, aiming to achieve a better society for all.

In this sense, SOLIDUS project aims to analyzing in depth the acts of solidarity which are being developed across Europe, the extent to which they respond to dialogic and inclusive processes, the related outcomes and the policy developments. The project starts from previous findings on successful actions which are combating the crisis – by creating employment or improving access to health – through acts of solidarity. These acts are thus contributing to construct more inclusive and prosperous societies, by influencing at the macro-level (social inequalities) and micro-level (psychological wellbeing).

In this regard, the research will identify common elements among these acts in order to examine their transferability to different contexts. To cover this objective, effects of these actions in five social areas will be studied in depth: housing, education, employment, civic engagement and health. Simultaneously, special attention will be paid on social investment policies which are supporting these initiatives.

Work performed from the beginning of the project to the end of the period covered by the report and main results achieved so far

During the first year of the SOLIDUS Project, several activities have been developed.

Firstly, SOLIDUS has started a in depth literature review (meta-analysis) of the conceptualization of solidarity in order to collect the main contributions from social theory on this field. SOLIDUS has elaborated a first working paper about this solidarity conceptualization. This literature review will be improved with the main results of SOLIDUS which will be periodically obtained during the following months.

Secondly, SOLIDUS team has also elaborated different Background National Papers in each partner’s country involved in the project. These Policy Papers have been developed to explore the basic socioeconomic, institutional and public policy in European countries in order to highlight how national and European societies are overcoming geographical inequalities and exclusion for identity identification (in terms of age, ethnic, religion, gender, and other identity group factors) through acts of solidarity. In this sense, SOLIDUS has identified more than 170 initiatives based on solidarity across Europe which are achieving significant social improvements. In order to know more about their social impact and to identify common elements among these acts related with their success, SOLIDUS team is analyzing in depth the 75 case studies with more social impact.

Thirdly, SOLIDUS has also designed a quantitative study (‘Transnational European Solidarity Survey’, TESS) to measure and analyses attitudes of European citizens of participating countries toward solidarity, social justice and transnational social policy. The survey is going to be launched in 8 Eurozone members’ countries: Cyprus, Greece, Germany, Ireland, Netherlands, Portugal, Slovakia and Spain).

Fourthly, several tasks related with the dissemination of SOLIDUS Project have been developed. SOLIDUS researchers have disseminated the project and some of its preliminary results in different academic forums, as conferences, congresses, university’ lectures, among others. Besides, SOLIDUS will hold imminently a policy seminar to share its first results with members of the European parliament and another policy makers and stake holders related with the main focus of SOLIDUS.

Finally, ethical, security and intellectual property measures have been implemented rigorously, in order to protect all the data collected by the project (also personal data), to guarantee researchers rights in terms of intellectual property, and to ensure the open access data of the SOLIDUS results (when them could or should be public).

Progress beyond the state of the art and expected potential impact (including the socio-economic impact and the wider societal implications of the project so far)

SOLIDUS is aimed at providing a better understanding of the dynamics and factors related to solidarity in all of its dimensions (psychological, spatial, generational, organized and informal), looking for ways to enhance European society's resilience by identifying common ground which may serve as a facilitator for a renewed resolve to foster European integration.

During this first year, SOLIDUS has already identified some common elements that explain the social impact achieved by some successful initiatives and organizations based on solidarity. Levels of democracy, plurality, or transparency seem to be some of the key elements that explain social impact achieved by initiatives and organizations analyzed. However, a more in depth analysis is necessary to collect enough evidences which prove that relation. Besides, SOLIDUS team has also started to elaborate a more in depth conceptual framework about solidarity, and particularly about solidarity in Europe. This deep analysis is considering multiple disciplines to a better understanding of the phenomenon.

Therefore, SOLIDUS expected scientific impacts will be mainly addressed to a better theoretical understanding of the solidarity in Europe; to identify successful practices and key drivers to instill solidarity; to propose and/or identify transformative actions to be integrated in social policies; and to generate indicators which will measure social resilience and socio-economic and political impact of solidarity. Regarding expected political impact of SOLIDUS project, its results will mainly contribute to reform social policies, increasing their efficiencies and sustainability. Besides, SOLIDUS expected social impact will be contribute to fight against social exclusion empowering citizens, identifying and promoting successful initiatives based on solidarity that are overcoming social inequalities.

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