Europeanisation from below: movements, citizens and Europe

Research team

  • Benedetta Carlotti (UNIBZ)

In this project we investigate social movements’ (both progressive and conservative) and citizens europanization from below, namely the development of European positions (in favour or critical toward the EU), mobilisations and issues and targets in civil society. Case studies are Italy as well as other Western and Eastern/Central European countries which are connected with similar project to this research group.

One example is the project NEB on European Narratives From Below (2021-2022 ‘Tackling illiberal narratives and Euroscepticism from below’, Europe for Citizens Program; number: 625696-CITIZ-1-2020-1-MK-CITIZ-CIV), of which this research group is part (PI Manuela Caiani, Post Doc collaborator Benedetta Carlotti). This research group relies on mixed method approaches and qualitative and quantitative data.

In this project, we analyze the renewed importance of European identities in the contemporary protest arena. While the wave of anti-austerity protests in the early 2010s reemphasized that the time of ‘permissive consensus’ concerning European integration is long gone, it was also marked by the ‘low visibility’ or even ‘invisibility’ of Europe. Anti-austerity activists did not regard the European Union (EU) as a polity where political alternatives could be sought. 

More recently, activists from across the political spectrum are increasingly advancing their own ‘visions of Europe’ based on strong European identities. In the second half of the 2010s, mobilization in favor of ‘Europe’ and against ‘nationalism’ became a crucial element for many left-wing and liberal activists, especially in the face of the significant increase of far-right parties’ electoral successes. Simultaneously, far-right groups organized protests in response to the intensifying ‘refugee crisis’. These protesters also emphasized a European identity, albeit to propagate the so-called ‘defense’ of Europe against alleged threats of ‘Islamization’ and ‘decay’.

Project Partners

EUROTHINK – Centre for European Strategies, Scuola Normale Superiore University – Faculty of Political and Social Sciences – Florence (Italy), University of Ljubljana – Faculty of Social Sciences – Center of International Relations – Ljubljana (Slovenia) and Jan Nowak-Jezioranski College of Eastern Europe (KEW), Wojnowice (Poland).