Building: BL27 Georg Sverdrups hus Floor: 2 Room: GS 2531
Within the last decade, European countries have experienced developments that have meant a less favorable setting for immigrants in these countries. Not only have the financial and economic crisis heightened poverty and distributional conflicts in many European societies. The intensified influx of refugees since about 2014 and especially after autumn 2015 has further strained the social fabric and acceptance towards immigrants. The changing social climate has been observable in all European countries. One of the most prominent examples was clearly Germany. While this country took in a large number of refugees it also saw considerable racial violence directed at them as well as a rise of the right-wing populist challenger party AfD. Other countries heavily shaken by the refugee crisis were those at the south-eastern external frontier of the Community, such as Greece which had to cope with a large amount of refugees. This situation has surely influenced politics and attitudes of the Greek citizens. And, even in the comparatively liberal Nordic countries, such as Sweden, the tone regarding the issue of refugees has become rougher as far-right parties have mobilized anti-immigrant sentiment. The refugee crisis has also brought to light a very restrictive attitude toward refugees and immigrations in the many Eastern European countries. And last but not least, the issue of refugees and immigration certainly has played a major role in the developments that have led to the Brexit. More recently, following the Brexit vote in the United Kingdom, the country has experienced a wave of ethnically or religiously motivated violence. Yet, these violent developments are only one side of the coin. The other side showed that many Europeans lent in various ways a helping hand to the refugees.
This is more than reason enough to take a closer look at the issue of refugees and particularly societal reactions to them. The developments sketched out above call for the question of how citizens treat refugees (e.g. through volunteering, on the one hand, or in the form of political violence or hostile protests, on the other) in various European countries and which are the causes for their behavior. Although this overarching question has a substantially narrow focus, the panel is designed to invite different aspects as well as methodological approaches. What are the roots of violence committed against refugees? Who is engaged with assisting refugees in what ways and why? How does the political and socio-cultural context condition citizen behavior toward refugees? – These are only some of the possible question that could be broached by participants of the panel.
Dealing with these kinds of question promises to enhance our understanding of citizen attitudes and behavior regarding immigrants in general and refugees in particular. Furthermore, we are interested in a cross-country comparative perspective that can shed light on where and how the studied phenomena differ between countries and where they do not. The panel can furthermore serve to connect researchers from different countries who work on the subject, and to initiate collaborative, cross-country projects in that area.