Social and Solidarity Economy, Urban Communities and the Protection of Vulnerable Groups

How can the Social and Solidarity Economy (SSE) effectively contribute to the integration of those left-behind by the declining social aid and create solidarity for these vulnerable groups?

Project Summary

Since 2008, the European Union has become synonymous with crises: the economic crisis, the Eurozone crisis, and finally the refugee crisis. As a result of the financial crises and ensuing cuts in social spending, European societies further witnessed the weakening of solidarity policies for the social protection of the unemployed native-born, the migrants, and the newly arrived refugees. At the same time a rise in xenophobia and populist politics that blamed migrants and refugees for the economic upheavals and the struggle of the local communities could be observed.

Against this background, this research project aims to examine how the Social and Solidarity Economy (SSE) can effectively contribute to building solidarity, protecting and integrating refugees, migrants, and the unemployed native-born within local communities and into labour markets, and what enabling policy environments are required. The potentials, challenges and tensions involved in this regard within a context of austerity and welfare retrenchment, growing xenophobia and populist politics will also be assessed.

The research aims at generating evidence and policy suggestions to maximize the potential of SSE actors to integrate refugees, migrants, and the unemployed native-born at local level, and to create spaces and relationships of solidarity in times of controversy. Three localities will be examined as case studies: Geneva (Switzerland), Bergamo (Italy), and Heraklion (Greece). Ultimately, the project’s comparative findings will inform scholarly and policy debates, by providing concrete recommendations on the SSE potential for addressing vulnerable groups in highly contentious times.

Academic Output

Working Paper

Social and Solidarity Economy, Urban Communities and the Protection of Vulnerable Groups

Since 2008, the European Union (EU) has become synonymous with crises: the economic crisis, the Eurozone crisis, and finally the refugee crisis. Especially the inflow of refugees to the EU since 2011, which dramatically increased in 2015 to reach a record high of 1.3 million people – mostly due to the civil war in Syria but also other conflicts in Africa and the Middle East – has placed Europe in a difficult situation economically, politically and socially. An understanding of the effects of the refugee crisis on European societies and labour markets cannot ignore what preceded that crisis. Following a short-lived fiscal stimulus (2008-2009), most countries introduced (in 2010) fiscal adjustments and sweeping austerity measures that ramped down public spending (see Ortiz et al., 2015). These developments have been most evident among the southern European countries such as Greece and Italy, in particular. In these countries, the economic crisis has had a profound effect on labour market integration not only of the native population but also of migrants.

Executive Summary

Since 2008, the European Union has become synonymous with crises: the economic crisis, the Eurozone crisis and finally the refugee crisis. As a result of the financial crises and subsequent cuts in social spending, European societies have further witnessed the weakening of solidarity policies for the social protection of the native-born unemployed, migrants and newly arrived refugees. Against this background, the research aimed to generate evidence and policy suggestions to maximize the potential of SSE actors to integrate refugees, migrants, and the native-born unemployed at local level, and to create spaces and relationships of solidarity in times of controversy.

Research Team

Marco Giugni
Coordinator
University of Geneva

Florence Passy
Co-Coordinator
University of Lausanne

Maria Mexi
Co-Coordinator
University of Geneva

Chiara Aurora Demaldè
Principal Member
University of Trento

Katia Pilati
Principal Member
Università degli studi di Trento

Ibrahim Saïd
Principal Member
United Nations Research Institute for Social Development (UNRISD)

Annalisa Christini
Associated Member
Università degli studi di Bergamo

Maria Kousis
Associated Member
University of Crete

lcheong Yi
Associated Member
United Nations Research Institute for Social Development (UNRISD)

Francesca Forno
Associated Member
University of Trento

Silvana Signori
Associated Member
Università degli studi di Bergamo

Status

completed

Disciplines

Themes

Regions

Countries

Greece, Italy, Switzerland

Host Institution

Coordinator

Year