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Dynamics of Inequality Across the Life-Course: structures and processes

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - DIAL (Dynamics of Inequality Across the Life-Course: structures and processes)

Reporting period: 2019-05-01 to 2022-04-30

Since 2004, the NORFACE Network has proven itself as a successful coordinated common action of currently twenty national research funding agencies. NORFACE (New Opportunities for Research Funding Agency Cooperation in Europe) has offered unique opportunities for participating funding agencies by developing common research funding instruments, thus creating opportunities for facilitating and building new networks of research collaboration in the social sciences.

Major achievements up until now have been six transnational initiatives: three rounds of the NORFACE Seminar Series in 2005, 2006 and 2007, the pilot research programme “Re-emergence of Religion as a Social Force in Europe?” (€ M 5,4) in 2006, the transnational research programme “Migration in Europe - Social, Economic, Cultural and policy Dynamics” (€ M 23) in 2008, the “Welfare State Futures” programme (€ M 18), in 2014, the “Dynamics of Inequality Across the Life-course” programme (€ M 18) in 2017, the “Transformations to Sustainability” programme (€ M 11,6) in 2018, and more recently the “Democratic Governance in a Turbulent Age” (€ M 17,6) of which the call is currently running. These programmes have been in line with the ideas of the European Research Area. By strengthening and promoting co-operation amongst member organisations, NORFACE is contributing to the realisation of the European Research Area in the Social Sciences.

NORFACE launched the Dynamics of Inequality Across the Life-course: structures and processes (acronym: DIAL) to contribute to the understanding of the existing and rising inequalities that pose fundamental challenges to European societies and economies. The increasing gap between rich and poor, exacerbated by the recent financial and economic crises, has been a key concern. The sources of inequalities in contemporary societies are complex and highly intertwined and they and their consequences can only be understood by comprehensive research activities.

The DIAL programme has three major objectives. First, to advance globally excellent theoretical and methodological research on dynamics of inequality across the life-course which may be multi-disciplinary, inter-disciplinary and comparative, and which builds synergistically on a pan-European basis; second, to motivate and support excellence and capacity building for research on dynamics of inequality across the life-course on a cross-national basis throughout the NORFACE countries; and third, to develop understanding and promote research-based knowledge and insight into dynamics of inequality across the life-course for issues of societal, practical and policy relevance, with theoretical foundations but worked on jointly with relevant users and experts.

The research projects funded within the DIAL programme include researchers from eleven European countries, funded by national research funding agencies of NORFACE. With over € M 18 of funding, thirteen transnational research projects were selected for funding within the programme. The thirteen teams with 52 Principal Investigators from a wide variety of disciplines are undertaking research topics ranging from inequality and its consequences in education, child development, health, populism and LBTQ citizens, to employment and working life.
The activities performed in Period 1 (01-11-2017/01-05-2019) of the Dynamics of Inequality Across the Life-course ERA-NET programme cover all actions from the point of preparing the Call for Proposals to funding the first year of the research projects. The consortium’s activities in the first reporting period have been coordinated through Work Package ‘Management and administrative coordination of the DIAL Call’ (WP1). This WP focuses on the overall project coordination and consortium management, the management of the ERA-NET Cofund Call, evaluation and decision-making process, the monitoring of the progress of the funded projects, and the administrative and financial management of the ERA-NET Cofund obligations to the EC.

Activities to reach the objectives of the DIAL programme have been pursued and successfully carried out. The following achievements towards the objectives can be reported:
• The DIAL Call for Proposals was finalized and published and the Call was disseminated to the research community by publications in relevant media (WP2).
• The evaluation and decision-making process for the Call for Outline Proposals was conducted in good quality, effectiveness and fairness, and the NORFACE Network Board decided on which consortia to invite to submit a Full proposal on the basis of the evaluation and ranking reports (WP3).
• The evaluation and decision-making process for the Call for Full Proposals was conducted in good quality, effectiveness and fairness, and the NORFACE Network Board made a funding decision on the basis of the evaluation and ranking reports (WP4).
• Proper contracting arrangements were made between NORFACE and the funded project consortia, and an effective start of the projects was ensured (WP5).
• The quality and progress of the funded projects and the effective use of the funding money is monitored, as well as the coherence, efficiency and progress of the programme as a whole (WP6).
• A knowledge exchange and communication strategy is being finalized, various networking opportunities and other activities with common interests across projects and funders have been organized and enabled, and a Scientific Programme Coordinator has been appointed to ensure good cross-communication, synergy between the projects, the integration of the various funded projects into the programme and knowledge exchange.
A DIAL Knowledge Exchange and Communication strategy is being finalized, which aims at increasing awareness of the impact of the funded research beyond academia. The strategy involves various activities aimed at promoting cooperation and collaboration in the DIAL programme on producing integrated knowledge on inequality, across geographical, disciplinary and thematical borders; and enhancing the impact of the integrated knowledge emanating from the funded research within the DIAL programme.