The SOLiDi research program consists of 15 individual doctoral research projects (Early Stage Researchers, ESR). All these projects focus on how solidarities can be generated across cultural boundaries. Some projects take organizational strategies and policy-making dynamics as their entry point, while others focus on the micro-level of social interactions.

ESR1: Nurturing solidarities in diversity in social enterprises

This research project is concerned with how solidarities in diversity are built within the context of social enterprises. Social enterprises function in a market context but routinely generate solidarities as part of their strategy to attain their social mission (e.g. the creation of a socially supportive working environment for employees in labour market integration trajectories). The practices of solidarity developed in social enterprises are built between social professionals and the constituencies served by social enterprises as part of their social mission. These social professionals and the enterprises’ constituencies mostly have very different class backgrounds and often belong to different ethnic-cultural communities (majority versus minority populations). The research question of this project is then how are solidarities in diversity generated between social professionals and constituencies of social enterprises in the context of the hybrid organizational form of social enterprises?

This research question will be explored through two case studies, one in the area of housing, another one in the sphere of labour market activation. In the housing sector we will focus on Collectief Goed, a housing cooperatives providing affordable rental housing to large, migrant families. The second case study will focus on the role of professional labour market coaches in work integration social enterprises. The first case (housing) is part of WP 2 (policy and organisational perspective), while the second case is part of WP1 (micro-level interactions).

  • Host organization and PhD enrolment: University of Antwerp, Belgium
  • Expected start date: September 2021
  • Academic secondment: University of Vienna, Austria
  • Non-academic: Collectief Goed/Samenlevingsopbouw Antwerpen Stad  and work integration enterprise that is member of Herwin, Belgium

ESR2: Citizenship education and beyond: the role of education in fostering solidarity in diversity

The emergence of majority-minority cities has prompted two rather contradictory responses from policy makers: centripetal tendencies (focusing on cultural homogenization by stressing national identity, culture and values) and centrifugal tendencies (focusing on cultural heterogenization by stressing a global mindset, cultural empathy and interculturality). These tensions are also found in schools in superdiverse urban contexts. The focus of this project is therefore to study through a mainly qualitative and interpretative methodology how the intersection of educational discourses on solidarity and diversity and the school’s role in providing a ‘national curriculum’ and sometimes reproducing educational inequalities, plays out in the everyday school and class context.

  • Host organization and PhD enrolment: University of Antwerp, Belgium
  • Expected start date: September 2021
  • Academic secondment: Maynooth University, Ireland
  • Non-academic: Onderwijsbeleid Stad Antwerpen and SIRIUS

ESR3: Intersectional coalitions for solidarity with refugees in rural and suburban settings

The accommodation of asylum seekers and refugees has not only sparked local protests, but also innovative forms of solidarity in diversity. Local residents have acted as buddies or volunteers in projects with refugees (e.g. innovative housing initiatives, intercultural projects, socio-cultural activities). However, little is known about the emergence of solidarity with refugees in rural and suburban settings. Drawing on qualitative research in four rural or suburban municipalities in Belgium where an asylum centre has been located, this study will provide a new perspective on the emergence of solidarity in diversity. Based on a qualitative analysis of media reports, documents and in-depth interviews with different stakeholders, a rich understanding of the context in which solidarity is embedded is generated. Special attention will go to ways in which the practices and the discourses of mayors, directors of asylum centres and civil society leaders form intersectional coalitions pursuing a particular pedagogical approach to nurture a local climate in which solidarities emerge (or not). This project fits in WP2.

  • Host organization and PhD enrolment: University of Antwerp, Belgium
  • Expected start date: September 2021
  • Academic secondment: Universiteit voor Humanistiek, the Netherlands
  • Non-academic: Samenlevingsopbouw Antwerpen

ESR4: Solidarities under strain: place-based identities in turbulent times

Building on critical discussions of intersectional solidarities, this project aims to explore two intersecting dimensions of solidarity in the North East of England in the context of politically turbulent Brexit times: (1) the diverse forms of labour that go into maintaining solidarities and forms of place-based identity, pride and collectivity and; (2) the tensions and fractures that undermine and challenge solidarities, addressing how solidarities may fail, or be overridden. The research will focus on the town of Berwick-upon-Tweed, a town with a long history of border politics. Berwick’s history has seen the town incorporated in both England and Scotland at different points, with its present identification as part of the North East of England being challenged by political parties in both countries. Given its border history, its relative socioeconomic disadvantage and its ageing population, Berwick presents a unique opportunity to explore how place-based solidarities, senses of identity and collectivity, are maintained and challenged in the turbulent politics of the present. In order to explore these dynamics, the research will develop a multi-method ethnographic approach, utilizing media and archival analysis, interviews, participant observation, and ‘go-alongs’ with Berwick residents to examine place-based forms of identity and solidarity. This project fits in WP2.

  • Host organization and PhD enrolment: Durham University, UK
  • Expected start date: September 2021
  • Academic secondment: Uppsala University, Sweden
  • Non-academic: Citizen Songwriters

ESR5: Nurturing and Creating Solidarity with Migrant Teachers: A Public Education Issue

Despite the rise of privatised forms of education and the introduction of school choice, policy makers continue to see public education as a key vehicle for the education of (future) citizens and the promotion of social cohesion and integration. However, scant attention is paid in many countries to how migrant teachers might contribute professionally to this public mission. Migrant teachers who have qualified outside the country in which they now reside face unique difficulties in terms of credentialing, experiences of integration, respect and equality and economic precarity. The objective of this project is to explore how migrant teachers are positioned in relation to the solidarity ambitions of public education, and what opportunities and resources they have for articulating these ambitions in ways that are also meaningful to them.The project poses the following research questions: (1) what is the current status of migrant teachers, particularly in relation to policies and practices concerning their professional integration? (2) how do migrant teachers orient themselves professionally and what role does this play in promoting public education? The first question focuses on the current policies and practices concerning migrant teachers in a selected number of European countries and relates these to the local traditions of public education, while for question two, the project employs an ethnographic-participatory methodology, investigating a teacher-led professional network aimed at providing credentialing and professional support for teachers within the Migrant Teacher Project in Ireland. This project fits in WP1.

  • Host organization and PhD enrolment: Maynooth University, Ireland
  • Expected start date: September 2021
  • Academic secondment: University of Malta, Malta
  • Non-academic: in close collaboration with Migrant Teacher Project

ESR6: From representation to solidarity: enhancing democracy through migrants’ political participation

Representativeness of people with experience of migration, discrimination or racism in public administration is of key importance for facilitating solidarity in diversity. This project focuses the efforts of various actors to assure that the workforce in public administration and other key institutions in Germany mirror the socio-demographic composition of the German society, and that migrants and their descendants and BIPoC people in Germany are adequately represented in the political decision-making processes. This project’s objectives are to map the actors involved in this field, understand their roles and strategies, and analyse the relationship between diversity, solidarity, political participation and representativeness.

  • Host organization and PhD enrolment: The German Center for Integration and Migration Research (DeZIM), Germany
  • Expected start date: September 2021
  • Academic secondment: Universiteit voor Humanistiek (UvH), the Netherlands
  • Non-academic: BKMO, Germany

ESR7: Solidarity in diversity within youth work. Towards an ethnography-based public pedagogy

The aim of this project is to analyse which characteristics are defining for pedagogical interventions that enhance solidarity in diversity within youth work practices. We will scrutinize how ‘enactments’ of specific actors, relations and materialities allow for public gathering and/or emancipation to happen within youth work. In doing so, this project shifts from an institutional definition of what the public is to a focus on the concrete organization of practices that gather a public around something. This project also makes a shift from an individual perspective on emancipation to a focus on emancipation as a staging process in which the equal ability of all to ‘reason’ and to speak is verified. The empirical analysis will focus on four youth work organizations. We hypothesize that the central theme of the organisation’s activities (e.g. art, playing together etc.) will have an influence on the places where youngsters meet and the forms of gathering and staging. Both organisation representatives, youth workers and youngsters/participants will be interviewed and observed. This ESR is part of WP2.

  • Host organization and PhD enrolment: Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Belgium
  • Expected start date: September 2021
  • Academic secondment: Durham University, UK
  • Non-academic: Formaat and Artforum, Belgium

ESR8: Intersectional solidarity and activism

This PhD addresses the tension between identity, intersectionality and solidarity. It focuses on the experiences, practices and strategies of social movement activists in Belgium, mobilizing and participating in local and transnational movements. It discusses the difficulties and possibilities of building intersectional solidarity in the context of (trans)local activism. The objective of the research is to better understand how intersectional activists seek to build solidarity and/in political activism, in relation to mainstream social movements and migrant communities. The research will take an ethnographic approach, including participant observation and auto-ethnography as a community and movement member, interviews and participatory mapping sessions with individual participants about their experiences and strategies of intersectional solidarity and oral histories of movement organizers about their movement’s or organization’s vision and strategies vis-à-vis solidarity. The researcher plans participant observations in Belgian antiracist organization Kifkif. Feedback and collaboration will also be sought from intersectional organisations in other cities and mainstream social movement organisations.

  • Host organization and PhD enrolment: Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Belgium
  • Expected start date: September 2021
  • Academic secondment: University of Leicester
  • Non-academic: Expeditions vzw and Kifkif vzw Belgium

ESR9: Intersectional solidarities: supporting LGBT migrants in a superdiverse city

This project will investigate the experiences of LGBT migrants within one of the most ethnically diverse cities in the UK. Very often, debates around the experiences of living in diversity primarily focus on ethnic, cultural and religious difference and overlook the experiences of LGBT migrants. Too frequently in mainstream political discourse experiences of LGBT communities and migrant/diasporic groups are problematically counterposed. This project attends to the experiences of LGBT migrants and the places and practices through which they experience solidarity in diversity. The project will compare the experiences of a purposive sample of LGBT migrants from at least two of the following migration trajectories: (1) those who have migrated to Leicester from within Europe (focusing particularly on those from Southern and Central/Eastern Europe); (2) those who have migrated to Leicester to join well-established diasporic communities from the Indian Subcontinent and Sub-Saharan Africa (including LGBT asylum seekers); (3) LGBT students from elsewhere in the world who have come to study at the city’s two universities. Working with these diverse participants, the project will investigate the places and practices that help them find solidarity across intersectional difference; and in enabling them to feel that they ‘belong’ in the city, as LGBT migrants. This ESR fits in WP2.

  • Host organization and PhD enrolment: University of Leicester, UK
  • Expected start date: September 2021
  • Academic secondment: Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Belgium
  • Non-academic: Trade Sexual Health, UK

ESR10: Understanding how young people’s complex racialised discourses and practices shape solidarities in an ethnically diverse city: Building skills, sharing knowledge

Solidarity in diversity involves not shying away from thorny issues such as racialized talk to explore how this might fuel divisive prejudice, but also bonding and togetherness amongst young people in an ethnically diverse city. Sparking this project are new, emerging forms of sociality, such as ‘perverse cosmopolitanism’, shaped by young people involving (troubling) racialised discourses enacted from a position of inclusivity and desire for togetherness. The goal of this project is to investigate complex racialised discourses and practices of young people that shape inclusive (and exclusive) solidarities in an ethnically diverse city. The project is located in Leicester, an ethnically diverse city in the UK which is often described as a model of successful multiculturalism, but is also a place where racism fuels prejudice. To explore solidarity in place, the project will involve participant observation work with young people aged 13-19 who are variously economically, culturally and socially positioned in how they experience privilege, prejudice, victimization and everyday multiculturalism in Youth Centres in Leicester and interviews with youth workers around experiences, challenges, training and skills for handling racism and racialised talk. This project fits in WP2.

  • Host organization and PhD enrolment: University of Leicester, UK
  • Expected start date: September 2021
  • Academic secondment: University of Antwerp, Belgium
  • Non-academic: Leicester City Youth Services

ESR11 Political Activism for Public Pedagogy. A Study in ‘Dissenting’ Solidarity

This research project focuses on solidarity with marginalized groups created through political activism as a form of public pedagogy. Political activism is understood as a practice that challenges social norms and generates publicness and is therefore a form of public pedagogy. The pedagogical aspects of political activism lie within the fluid formations of activities by social groups or movements that emerge from the very mobilization of people at particular places against neoliberal and/or state induced injustices in solidarity with those who suffer them. Conceived in this manner solidarity continually morphs in relation to others and involves political activities demonstrating dissensus. Public pedagogies are enabled by the performance of strategic resistances that radicalize solidarity from its compliant and assimilative tendencies. The research project will (1) engage in an analysis of the historical developments in concepts and practices of solidarity in political activism by social movements in Malta during the last 50 years; and (2) case study research of the actions of Moviment Graffitti, a Malta-based social movement whose activism fights the oppression of marginalized people like migrants, the environment and animals. This ESR fits both in WP1 and 2.

  • Host organization and PhD enrolment: University of Malta, Malta
  • Expected start date: September 2021
  • Academic secondment: University of Leicester, UK
  • Non-academic: Moviment Graffitti, Malta

ESR12 Bridging solidarity in neighborhood teams

In this project, we aim to analyse how community workers in neighborhood teams in the Netherlands give shape to promoting bridging solidarity between inhabitants with different ethnic, religious and/or cultural backgrounds. The majority of Dutch municipalities has set up neighborhood teams, consisting of professionals who visit people with social, relational or financial problems at their homes and find out how they can be supported. Promoting bonding solidarity is their main strategy, but they can also promote bridging solidarity by promoting people to organize collectively to support each other. Chances are higher that they do so when teams include community workers, who have been trained to organize bridging solidarity. We aim to analyse how neighborhood teams that include community workers promote bridging solidarity by promoting dialogue and help between groups (‘solidarity work’). We selected diverse neighborhoods in two cities spread with such neighborhood teams: Haarlem and Nijmegen. In each of the two neighborhoods, over a period of two years, the main researcher will conduct participant observations, repeated interviews with inhabitants involved and not involved in these meetings and ask interviewees to make pictures of displays of solidarity in their neighborhoods and discuss these with them (photo-voice). This project fits in WP1.

  • Host organization and PhD enrolment: Universiteit voor Humanistiek (UvH), the Netherlands
  • Expected start date: September 2021
  • Academic secondment: University of Antwerp, Belgium
  • Non-academic: DOCK Haarlem and Sterker Sociaal Werk Nijmegen, the Netherlands

ESR13 Competing solidarities: sexual justice vs cultural justice in social work?

Social workers are increasingly confronted with problems in families of migrant background related to cultural practices that harm the rights and well-being of women and young people (e.g. arranged marriages or honour related violence). Social workers are supposed to intervene, but what is the appropriate intervention? Social workers have a large discretionary freedom in steering their clients towards what they believe is in their best interest, yet little is known about their actual interventions. What is the relation between multicultural solidarity and gender solidarity? This project studies social workers’ encounters with harmful gender and sexuality related practices, the moral dilemmas these create for the professional and the clients and their actual interventions. The project will focus on cases (with risk) of family violence in migrant families. In the Netherlands social neighbourhood teams’ task is to intervene and develop collective preventive initiatives at neighbourhood level. This WP fits in WP1.

  • Host organization and PhD enrolment: Universiteit voor Humanistiek (UvH), the Netherlands
  • Expected start date: September 2021
  • Academic secondment: Durham University
  • Non-academic: Pharos Expertisecenter Health differences

ESR14 Rural practices of solidarities in diversity in the labour movement

Rural communities in Europe have a long history of receiving refugees. In several countries, national migration agencies have favoured rural communities for placing refugees that are in the asylum process and beyond. The labour movement in rural areas has been pivotal in picking up the challenge of creating practices of solidarities between local communities and newcomers, e.g. practices that focus on language training, skill development, and, cultural and social heritage. These organizations, however, have mainly been directed towards local and national solidarities while newcomer networks tend to span over borders and are not limited to local practices. The aim of this project is to explore how rural practices of solidarity are created, negotiated and fused together between the established labour movement and new migrants. The methodology is based on participatory action research, actively involving both newly arrived migrants and members of the labour movement. This projects fits in WP1 and 2.

  • Host organization and PhD enrolment: Uppsala University, Sweden
  • Expected start date: September 2021
  • Academic secondment: Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Belgium
  • Non-academic: Arbetarnas bildningsförbund

ESR15 Solidarities and conflicts in governing migrant integration on urban scale

The project examines how the governance of migrants ́ integration plays out at urban level. To gain an understanding of how migrants are integrated in the host communities and the underlying governance processes, the research project will identify and analyse the potential solidarities and conflicts developed at urban level as a result of the actors (governmental, non-governmental, private and civic) interactions shaping formal and informal paths towards migrants’ integration. The project will first investigate whether the intervention of governmental, non-governmental, private actors and local migrants’ communities is parallel, complementary or conflicting. Second, the spatial implications of these interactions will be examined in Vienna and in one other European city. This will cast light on the relationships forged by the variety of actors involved in migrants’ integration and the interaction of different governing levels. This implies an analysis of how solidarity or conflict is constructed through practices in the governance of integration. The project will draw on statistical analysis, institutional analysis, ethnographic/qualitative analysis (interview and observation). A special focus will be the examination of how migrants’ integration is pursued in Austria from a comparative perspective: a second case will be added from one of the consortium countries. This project fits in WP1.

  • Host organization and PhD enrolment: University of Vienna, Austria
  • Expected start date: September 2021
  • Academic secondment: DeZIM, Germany
  • Non-academic: Human rights Büro of the City of Vienna, Austria