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Back to Panel Details
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Local Conflicts around Migration: Civil Society in Times of Polarization and COVID-19

Civil Society
Conflict
Migration
Social Movements
P241
Elias Steinhilper
German Centre for Integration and Migration Research (DeZIM)
Sabrina Zajak
German Institute for Integration and Migration Research (DeZIM)
Moritz Sommer
Freie Universität Berlin

Abstract

The so-called „long summer of migration 2015” has become a chiffre for two parallel developments in civil society. On the one hand, the forced migration of hundred thousands of individuals from conflict-ridden countries to Europe led to an unprecedented activation of civil society in support of asylum-seekers. On the other hand, the increasing salience of migration has also accentuated a polarization of (civil) society, mirrored in the electoral success of right-wing populist parties and a proliferation of anti-migrant street mobilizations and violent attacks. Both dynamics – civic engagement and societal polarization – are embedded in every day practices, life worlds and local institutions. And, thus, the local level deserves special attention for a better understanding of these lasting shifts in European civil societies. Against this background, the panel seeks to scrutinize how the politicization of migration including the polarization of attitudes in support and in opposition to societal diversity more broadly, has affected civil society and its impact on political participation at the city, town, or village level. We are particularly interested in papers from different methodological and disciplinary backgrounds exploring the impact of the recent pandemic on dynamics of local conflicts around migration and diversity Again, we witness dynamics of change in civil society, including the emergence and re-activation of solidarity networks on the one hand and to the rise of anti-liberal mobilization on the other. So far, it is unclear how these new developments are tied into broader developments of conflict at the local level, yet there is tentative evidence that regulations to contain the spread of the virus contributed to a significant relocation of solidarities. The panel therefore particularly welcomes both theoretical and empirical contributions addressing the following research foci: - Empirical studies on the dynamics in civil society activity in support of migrants since 2015 at the local level, particularly on how polarization effects civil society networks and the attitudes and micro-interactions of individual volunteers. - Empirical analyses on the role of the COVID-19 pandemic for local conflicts around migration, particularly on how the pandemic affects civil society practices and networks. - Comparative and transnational analysis of changing conflict developments within and across different localities.

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