The crisis has created processes of fragmentation and exclusion both within and between European societies, on different levels: on a material level, as rising levels of unemployment and poverty are producing new social security “outsiders” and on an ideational level, whereby a discursive-cultural rift is forming between the new (and old) insiders and outsiders. Moreover, the crisis has also created a new level of fragmentation and exclusion. A rift is developing between the societies of the countries of the North, which are called upon to provide financial assistance to the countries of the European periphery hit by the crisis and the societies of the latter countries, which react negatively to the policy conditionality that accompanies this assistance. The objective of this project is to study these phenomena as they threaten stability and cohesion both within and between European societies.
It is for this reason that it is imperative to search for ways to address these developments. Crises also contain opportunities for change and renewal. There is increasing evidence of the emergence of spontaneous civil society initiatives, which aim at addressing the fragmentation and exclusion processes on the material and ideational levels. It is an objective of this research programme to identify and analyze such initiatives and design mechanisms for their propagation.
Greece and Germany constitute two ideal case studies. Greece is the country worst hit by the current crisis and has received the biggest financial assistance package, which has been accompanied however, by the most ambitious adjustment programme. Germany on the other hand, has emerged as the undisputed economic hegemon of Europe and displayed an exceptional robustness to the crisis. The two countries have been at the epicenter of the crisis and exemplify the problems of fragmentation and exclusion described above.