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SOLIDUS: “Solidarity in European societies: empowerment, social justice and citizenship”

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - SOLIDUS (SOLIDUS: “Solidarity in European societies: empowerment, social justice and citizenship”)

Reporting period: 2016-06-01 to 2018-05-31

The SOLIDUS project explored conceptually and empirically current and future expressions of European solidarity from an inter-disciplinary approach. As a result of these analyses, SOLIDUS has developed specific tools to deal with solidarity at policy and research levels delivering indicators, qualitative criteria and measures for integrating solidarity aspects into policy and social interventions and for monitoring the impact of solidarity on European society.
In this sense, the main goal of SOLIDUS has been to analyse policies, programmes and actions based on solidarity (i.e. institutionalised & grassroots) that have been successful in improving citizens’ living conditions in order to identify key features and characteristics that favour (or limit) solidarity with social and/or political impact. For the purpose of the study, SOLIDUS understood a successful solidarity initiative as an action based on solidarity which is reducing inequality (in terms of improvement in housing, employment, health, education and civic participation) and achieving improvement on a particular group or time frame. Successful solidarity can be also described as “inclusive solidarity”, opposing an “exclusive solidarity” that improves lives of a group of citizens by excluding others.
The SOLIDUS research looked at the spatial dimension of solidarity as well as at the inter-group and intra-group solidarity; and identified relevant common elements across 107 case studies of successful solidarity initiatives in 13 European countries and diverse fields of action, which guarantee the transferability of these results to different contexts.
Work performed, and main results achieved
SOLIDUS has combined an in-depth review of the literature conducted in each work package together with a large fieldwork developed across the European territory to achieve the defined research objectives. Specifically, this fieldwork was composed by: 181 inventory cases, 107 case studies, 542 interviews, 34 focus groups, an online survey to 471 officials working in the public sector (158 completed 371 partially completed), a meta-database on existing information about solidarity and welfare policies (Solidaritydata), and the Transnational European Solidarity Survey (TESS) to a sample of 12500 citizens in 13 EU countries.
Overview of the results
The SOLIDUS project has led to three different types of outcomes and results which have been collected in the diverse deliverables to the EC, that are available through the Participant Portal and the project website (
First, SOLIDUS has worked on the conceptualization of solidarity. Each work package, focusing on different aspects of solidarity, contributed a specific literature review which resulted into a collection of different concept papers. An overview of these conceptualizations is the “Research report on conceptualizing European solidarity”, which presents a review and synopsis of main findings from the theoretical discussions.
Second, there are important contributions drawing from the empirical research and fieldwork of the project collected in the corresponding research reports of each WP. While each report elaborates in particular dimensions with crucial information found, there are some of the findings worth highlighting in this summary:
a) There are several conditions that favour solidarity with social and political impact; most of them are linked to a capability approach. They were identified through the analysis of drivers and barriers across case studies. Some of these conditions are social (i.e. internal democracy, level of plurality, level of transparency, achieving recognition and scalability) and some conditions are personal (i.e. level of awareness and preparedness for solidarity, and creation of meaning).
b) There is relative high level of support for solidarity among European citizens, higher than political elites and scientific observers might expect. This was found through the analysis of TESS data. Particularly, the responses from citizens in 13 EU countries revealed overwhelming support of attitudes towards social security towards vulnerable groups (i.e. unemployed, elder and sick) to “all Europeans” beyond nation state frameworks.
The third type of outcome is the transference of research results into policy recommendations addressed to stakeholders, policy makers and civil society organizations. In this line, the SOLIDUS has released 4 policy briefs. Additionally, the project also released a handbook as a practical guide for social actors and policy making, entitled “Handbook on fostering solidarity: successful strategies of public-private cooperation in instilling solidarity practices”.
Exploitation and dissemination of the results
SOLIDUS developed a deliverable titled “D10.1 Dissemination and outreach plan that describes the dissemination planned during the project: SOLIDUS webpage, Twitter and Facebook accounts, scientific articles and chapter books, papers in international conferences, audiovisual content, press releases and newsletters, 11 country public events on “acts of solidarity”, policy briefs, handbook, 4 European Seminars, SOLIDUS Public Event.
Potential impacts and implications of the project
The SOLIDUS project aimed at analysing successful solidarity actions across Europe to be able to inform policy makers and stake holders. Along these lines, SOLIDUS has used a communicative methodological approach that involved the continuous dialogue between researchers from the consortium and key stakeholders. The advisory board (Policy and Social Dialogue Committee) helped the translation of results into policy recommendations. However, the many productive interactions between researchers and stakeholders in Seminars, Workshops and through fieldwork are already having an impact on their action.
A milestone in the project has been the elaboration of a “Toolbox for Social Citizenship” and the “Handbook on fostering solidarity”. These documents draw from the findings about the components that favour solidarity with social impact. Organizations involved in the project and targeted policy makers mentioned that it is very helpful for their work to have a set of indicators about dimensions of solidarity actions that can contribute to increase the social/political impact of a given action. The end-result of all this would be, according to their feedback, more efficient actions, programmes and policies based on solidarity to reduce inequalities and improve living conditions. Both Toolbox and Handbook are being disseminated through email lists and social media to civil society organizations and main stakeholders in the political arena in member states and regions.
Along similar lines, another impact on civil society organizations is that they realized they were not collecting evidence of the impacts of their actions appropriately, and voiced the need to dedicate more effort to make social and political impact from solidarity visible. Accordingly, in the future, further efforts are needed, to translate the solidarity-with-impact indicators elaborated in SOLIDUS into a system for monitoring and evaluation of such impacts, in order to improve solidarity policies and actions and better address the needs of most vulnerable populations. SOLIDUS findings are a step forward towards this wider goal.