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Identity questions. Measuring openness and closure in European Societies

Final Report Summary - OPENEUR (Identity questions. Measuring openness and closure in European Societies)

Project context and objectives

OPENEUR scheduled three main objectives as it results from part B1 of the project proposal. They are:
1) the development of a model which could explain elements affecting dynamics of social closure and openness of European societies;
2) use this model to explore people's attitudes towards different communities and groups;
3) catch typologies of 'others' framed inside societies and how these influence contacts between groups and communities.

The first of these objectives was achieved during the first year of the project. The researcher (Valeria Bello) developed her theoretical model which was later published in the book chapter 'Collective vs social identities. A theoretical analysis of the role of civil society in the construction of supra-national societies' (in D. Armstrong, V. Bello 'Civil Society and International Governance', Routledge 2011). Due to its excellence in the field, this book has been selected for inclusion among the books in the OAPEN project (Open Access Publishing in European Networks), which is a collaborative initiative to develop and implement a sustainable open access publication model for academic books in the humanities and social sciences. The OAPEN library aims to improve the visibility and usability of high-quality academic research by aggregating peer-reviewed open access publications from across Europe - see http://www.oapen.org for details.

The second objective was achieved during the second year of activities. In fact, the researcher has applied this model to a multi-level analysis of 15 European countries, carried out using the European Social Survey data. These research results were used to write an article entitled 'Identities and dynamics of openness and social closure in European Societies. A multi-level analysis', which was submitted to an international peer-reviewed journal in December 2011.

The third objective, which aimed to catch typologies of 'others' framed inside the societies of the countries selected for the research, has been achieved thanks to both the field studies activities carried out in the first year of the project, and the training activities in the proposed methodology of frame analysis scheduled for the second year. In fact, during the first year the researcher carried out ethnographic investigations in Spain, in the Catalan region, and on the border region of Tyrol, between Austria and Italy. Then she extended the investigation to other Italian areas, such as the region of Trentino Alto Adige, in the northern part of Italy, Tuscany in the centre, and finally in the southern part of Italy, in Campania and Calabria.

The results of this second part of the research activities were collected in a work entitled 'Policies, Interactions and Identities: a three-fold approach to explain immigrants' integration in Spain and Italy'. This work was presented both at the VI CRONEM conference - University of Surrey, UK, 30 June 2010), and at the beginning of the second year of activity at the APSA Conference held in Melbourne, on 29 Sept 2010. The research results included in this work were later divided into two different articles: 'Local Policies, Interactions and Identities. A qualitative approach to understand inter-ethnic relations in Catalonia', and 'Spain and Italy face to face. Identity Questions in two new immigrants receiving Countries'. Both articles were submitted for publication in two international peer-reviewed journals.

Interestingly, the impact of these results can be applied in several disciplines, as the immigrants’ integration in the host countries is an issue of interest for several academic disciplines, like political science, sociology, and economy. In addition, it is also of interest for the international relations field, as more and more frequently, immigrants’ integration and its related problems are issues of concern both for international and human security, and for the bilateral relations between host and home countries.

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