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Inequality, urbanization and Territorial Cohesion: Developing the European Social Model of economic growth and democratic capacity (COSHMO)

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - COHSMO (Former Hans Thor Andersen) (Inequality, urbanization and Territorial Cohesion: Developing the European Social Model of economic growth and democratic capacity (COSHMO))

Reporting period: 2018-05-01 to 2019-10-31

Social differences seem to be increasing across the European Union. During most of the 20th century social inequalities decreased between social classes, regions and age groups. Yet, since the late 1970s has the trend shifted towards rising inequalities; leading researchers and politicians fear that the rising levels of inequalities challenge social cohesion and in the end produce unrest, instability and undermine the “European Social Model”. The life chances of individuals seem to depend strongly with place of birth and social background; while welfare state intervention managed to decrease social inequalities through social policies, education and housing policies and regional programmes, the effect of the market forces has become more dominant during the last decades.
Europe as experienced a remarkable change in its industrial structure in first of all Western Europe; former manufacturing industry is partly replaced by the service industry. The latter sector differs significantly from the former; manufacturing industry manage to generate relatively similar salaries and other benefits across the labour market while the service sector is much more differentiated: Part of the sector is a low-skills and low-pay sector (e.g. cleaning, catering) , while other parts (banking, research, media) demand high skilled labour and offer quite high salaries. When the distribution across space of various industrial activities is unequal, areas of affluent people appear at the more attractive locations where housing prices are pushed to levels beyond the reach of working class and many middle class groups.
The threat of declining social justice and territorial cohesion has several implications for society: First of all, uneven chances appear as social unfair and largely undemocratic as a part of the population in reality is cut off from enjoying the opportunities of society. Secondly, this sense of unfairness may form a potential for social unrest and political instability. Thirdly, the exclusion of parts of the population does also mean that society is losing the benefits of having a better, educated labour force.
The overall aim of the COHSMO project is to identify the structures and processes behind the experienced territorial inequalities. Such an understanding will then help to detect what is the decisive forces behind the success of some localities; to which degree are these anchored at local level and to what degree are they depending on national and/ or regional initiative. Finally is it the intention to be able to point at what can be done at various scales – European, national, regional and local scale. Will social investments be an efficient method to counteract the rising differences at various geographic scales?
The first year of COHSMO project has been devoted to first examine key concepts such as territorial cohesion, spatial inequalities and justice, local conditions, delimitation of place. While many concepts appear tempting, some of them are actually chaotic concepts, which are difficult to make more precise or to test empirically. Secondly, the first year has made an overall mapping of socio-spatial differences in the seven European countries included in COHSMO. Does empirical evidence support the thesis behind the project? Inherent in the project is a hypothesis that inequalities are expressed at various scales depending on the phenomenon in question. Socio-economic differentiation, often labelled segregation, is perhaps most visible at urban scale between neighbourhoods, while labour market differences appears on a more regional scale. These facts do also provide an indication of the processes behind the development of spatial inequalities and decline of cohesion. Since autumn 2017 has the project consortium worked on the design of empirical analysis of the key concepts. So far has each partner identified three localities representing a large city/ metropolitan area, a suburban district and a rural area. The selected localities have been mapped in details and a report from each partner (D4.2) presented by end of May 2018. The selected localities must have delivered a policy regarding territorial cohesion in order to be included in the case studies. The next phase of the project will identify key actors and stakeholders behind local initiatives that aim at reducing spatial inequalities.

I the second reporting period, WP4 is the main tasks: The period includes three large deliverables; D4.4 – a working paper on interviews – delivers a list of types of stakeholders and citizens in each of the selected case study areas. This was followed by a list of selected informants from each country and from each case area: in each area a number (20) of informants will be chosen to represent different stakeholder relations, different social backgrounds, different gender and ethnicity, and different degree of public engagement. Conducting pilot interviews (2-4) and adjusting topic list for interviews. D4.5 analyses the articulation of territorial cohesion in different localities. The focus is on relations between territorial capital, collective efficacy and territorial governance. The concluding report of WP4 provides a summary of policies and stakeholder analysis.

Governmental programs are considered in WP% as an intermediate structure potentially connecting territorial cohesion and economic growth. The work package aims at studying under what local, contextual conditions a social investment strategy can be performed and can obtain positive results and what their impact might be in terms of territorial cohesion. This WP is also aimed at evaluating whether and to what extent EU-funded social programs take contextual, locally-based conditions for social investment strategy in account in their funding approach. With a focus on Active labour market policies, childcare policies, Vocational education and training policies, the WP aims at answering to the following main research questions: What are the local pre-conditions (including local identity and forms of its activation) that make this policy approach feasible and effective, or not feasible and ineffective?
COHSMO is departing from the two reports on territorial cohesion, the Böhme and Barca reports: A key point in these reports as well as in COHSMO is to understand the role of place. This does also imply the structuration of place and its number and density of social relations between people within a specific place as well as outside the place. As such is COHSMO an example of research that attempts to balance between structuralism and individualism/ voluntarism: COHSMO recognise that structures both reduce opportunities but also support some opportunities. However, it is not possible to reduce the acting space to objective structures: Individuals and their experiences, personal ambitions and skills have a major impact on what can be done at local level. The issue then is if there exists particularly structures, which can release individuals to transform their own structures and hence life chances.
The COHSMO Kick-off meeting Cph 2017
Meeting in National Advisory Board, Denmark 2019
Local citizens discussing European matters
Lands' end - facing the North Sea