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11 January 2018

Aniko Bernat on the rise and erosion of the solidarity movement in Hungary

Tarki's researcher Aniko Bernat was invited to speak at the conference of the European Sociological Association titled (Un)Making Europe: Capitalism, Solidarities, Subjectivities

The aim of this presentation was to understand solidarity 'in working' through the contradictions experienced by the Hungarian society during the recent migration crisis: new forms of civil activity have emerged in the Hungarian society, which, in general, demonstrates a low level of solidarity with 'foreigners' and 'the other' characterized by high levels of xenophobia and low levels of trust and civilian activity. The study also aims to understand the transformation and erosion of the solidarity movement after border closures of Hungary and the migration flow bypassed the country.

The main research questions were therefore as follows: How was it possible that in a society with low level of trust and a tendency of not accepting 'the other' a dedicated and effective voluntary grassroots movement sprung up without an organizational history? What were the main motivations of their volunteers? What happened with these grassroots organizations after tightened border closures in Hungary, how and where the human capacities of volunteers transferred?

The theoretical approach on solidarity applied here is close to those political sociology theories which focus on how solidarity among citizens builds social cohesion and how it affects the construction of civil societies and thus democracies (Putnam, 2000; Paxton, 1999). The research is also embedded in Chadwick's theory on hybridization of public sphere (2013).

The research relied primarily on qualitative research evidence (interviews with representatives of aid organizations as well as individual and group interviews with volunteers), completed with representative survey data and focus group results on anti-immigrant sentiments, trust and social attitudes on solidarity. Click here (ppt) to download the presentation material. Click here to download the presentation material.