Growing intolerance, rising support for right-wing populist parties, and a shift to immigration policies with a clear focus on assimilation constitute recent phenomena in many European countries. While debating the positive impact of diversity at the local level, these current tendencies challenge social social cohesion in our societies. The workshop aims at discussing the implications of this for the work of local actors who work on the level of cities and neighbourhoods. To what extent does the upswing affect the work at the local level? How does the local level intersect with virtual spaces and national trends? Which local contexts are more affected than others are? And, most importantly, how can we deal with that?
With the workshop, we want to bring participants into the discussion on these questions. They will exchange their perceptions on growing intolerance in their cities, working environments and social relationships of people. Based on this, we will reflect on the interactions between shifts towards an always more neoliberal, postpolitical and globalized world, about processes of social separation and polarization and an increasing distrust of people in political leadership, general visions of a cosmopolitan and open society and its representations/representatives. We will try to address how these general issues relate to different levels (e.g. national, regional, urban, neighbourhood) and spheres of work (municipal government, neighbourhood initiatives, communities). Last but not least, we will reflect on experiences how to counteract these trends and work for social cohesion.
Since the topic is complex and the time limited, we ask our potential participants beforehand why they registered for the workshop, which problems they are a) interested I to discuss and b) confronted with in their daily work with respect to growing intolerance. This can help us finding those topics that are of most interest to the participants. In any case, we have to be selective in the choice of our matters of interest.
The workshop will be organized in a mix of formats, starting with a presentation of the key results of the little survey beforehand, short input on existing theses how to explain the populist upswing across – and beyond – Europe, and continue as a “world café” to maximize the interaction between all participants.
Image: © 2015 David Wills