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Profane citizenship in Europe - Testing democratic ownership in hybrid situations

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How the 'have-nots' are redefining legal citizenship

How do people experiment with novel forms of citizenship? Using hybrid rather than strictly normative social situations and focusing on how individuals overcome the challenges of legal citizenship, PROFACITY termed this experimentation 'profane citizenship'.

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Research on the daily activities of those living in the European community shows that access to spaces where action and recognition are possible is quite restrictively dependent on social, national and ethnic criteria. The principles of European citizenship expounded by the Lisbon Strategy (related to employment, social integration and participation in the knowledge society) have yet to become a reality. As such, there are still major hurdles to overcome in the formal framework of legal citizenship. The EU-funded 'Profane citizenship in Europe - Testing democratic ownership in hybrid situations' (PROFACITY) project used the concept of profane citizenship as an analyser of democratic ownership. More particularly, researchers investigated if and how the practices of actors in situations where they had to make do with their faults, handicaps and lack of resources were considered as alternatives to legal citizenship. Advances were made at the theoretical level, enriching the concept of democratic ownership. This enables a revised approach when considering changing and dynamic transformations of the content of citizenship in the European context. Project partners conducted qualitative surveys in three overlapping research domains: languages and codes, attestations of identity, and tests of urbanity. Issues addressed included 'The right to be there' and 'The right to have rights'. Through fieldwork and a review of each research domain, researchers confirmed that experiments with novel forms of citizenship take place in very specific contexts. This is due to the important role played by both historical backgrounds and national particularities of the domains. Scientific results were presented on interpretations of profane citizenship, and on the development of various models of the concept (dynamic, historic, performative and interpretative). Additionally, researchers advanced knowledge on profane citizenship and translation milieus. Consortium members produced a number of joint publications, as well as a book, 'Testing and sensing profane citizenship in Europe', available in both English and French. Employing the concept of profane citizenship opens up a number of possibilities and allows for new approaches in handling pressing issues of citizenship. Research findings and project work in general have potential policy implications, supporting new constructions of citizenship and the establishment of so-called translation milieus to empower the actors concerned. Another area concerns the methods ('sensing') used to boost research, taking into account those less visible actions contributing to new forms of citizenship.

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