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European Solidarity

Sub-project of the DFG Research Unit "Horizontal Europeanization"

Project coordinators

Prof. Dr. Jürgen Gerhards & Zsófia S. Ignácz, Ph.D.

Project researchers

Maximilian Priem (until 09/2018)
Clara H. Dilger (from 01/2019)


The crisis of the European banking system, and of the Eurozone, and the economic crisis in some of the member states of the European Union have put the solidarity between the member states to a test. While many scientists and political actors assume that solidarity exists on the nation state level only and cannot be reached on a European level, other
scholars have contesting views. They suggest that the prerequisites for a European solidarity already exist, concluding that the process of deepening and democratization of the European Union can move forward. The present research takes these claims as a point of departure and explores the level of European solidarity and the factors influencing it. Thus, the
project poses the following two research questions:

  1. To what extent do citizens of a member state of the EU show solidarity to citizens from another member state and how does this level of European solidarity relate to national and global solidarity?
  2. Which factors are relevant for explaining differences regarding attitudes towards European solidarity? Can the supporters and opponents of European solidarity be determined based on their social position, and their ideological standing and does this then lead to cleavages boosting political conflicts?

A standardized survey conducted in five member states of the European Union will serve as the empirical basis for the research. We are thereby not interested in analyzing the social field of collective actors trying to create a new definition of transnational solidarity. Instead, we will analyze average citizens’ meaning of solidarity, and look at how the social space of solidarity is structured. Additionally, we will also explore to a certain extent how European solidarity related to national and global solidarity, in order to assess the fluidity of the phenomenon.


Gerhards, Jürgen, Holger Lengfeld & Clara Dilger. 2021. Contested European citizenship: Results from a 13-country survey. Acta Sociologica. Online first.

Gerhards, Jürgen. 2021. The Legitimacy and Strength of National, European and Global Solidarity: Philosophical Arguments and Empirical Findings. Contribution to the Plenary Session “Europa inmitten globaler Spannungen“. In: Birgit Blättel-Mink (ed.): Gesellschaft unter Spannung. Verhandlungen des 40. Kongresses der Deutschen Gesellschaft für Soziologie 2020 (Online-Publication).

Gerhards, Jürgen & Clara Dilger. 2020. European Citizens’ Attitudes on the Return of Refugees to Their Home Country: Results from a Survey in 13 EU Member States. Politische Vierteljahresschrift.

Jürgen Gerhards, Holger Lengfeld, Clara Dilger. 2020. Contested European Citizenship: Results from a 13 Country Survey. BSSE Arbeitspapier Nr. 40. Berlin: Freie Universität Berlin.

Zsófia S. Ignácz (2019): CONTRASTING GENERALIZED AND POLICY ATTITUDES TOWARD SOCIAL EUROPE: UNDERSTANDING THE DISCREPANCIES. Berlin Studies on the Sociology of Europe (BSSE) No. 39. Berlin: Freie Universität Berlin.

Gerhards, Jürgen. 2019. Wer ist bereit, Geflüchteten eine Aufnahme in Europa zu gewähren? Ergebnisse einer 13-Länder-Studie. Beitrag zum Plenum 5 „Migration, Flucht und Transnationale“. In Komplexe Dynamiken globaler und lokaler Entwicklungen. Verhandlungen des 39. Kongresses der Deutschen Gesellschaft für Soziologie in Göttingen 2018, edited by Nicole Burzan (Online-Publikation).

Gerhards, Jürgen & Holger Lengfeld. 2019. The underestimated strength of European Solidarity. Social Europe.

Jürgen Gerhards & Clara Dilger. 2019. Zur Legitimität der Rückführung von Geflüchteten in ihre Herkunftsländer aus Sicht der Bürgerinnen und Bürger: Ergebnisse einer Umfrage in 13 Ländern der Europäischen Union. BSSE Arbeitspapier Nr. 38. Berlin: Freie Universität Berlin.

Jürgen Gerhards, Holger Lengfeld, Zsófia S. Ignácz, Florian K. Kley & Maximilian Priem. 2019. European Solidarity in Times of Crisis. Insights from a Thirteen-Country Survey. Abingdon/Oxon, New York/NY: Routledge.

Jürgen Gerhards, Zsófia S. Ignácz, Florian K. Kley, Holger Lengfeld & Maximilian Priem. 2019. How Strong is European Welfare Solidarity? Results from a Comparative Survey Conducted in 13 EU Member States. In Horizontal Europeanisation. The Transnationalisation of Daily Life and Social Fields in Europe, edited by Martin Heidenreich. Abingdon, Oxon, New York, NY: Routledge.

Jürgen Gerhards, Holger Lengfeld, Zsófia S. Ignácz, Maximilian Priem & Florian K. Kley. 2018. European Welfare Solidarity in Focus: High Support for European Social Safety Net. EUVisions (online).

Jürgen Gerhards, Holger Lengfeld, Zsófia S. Ignácz, Florian K. Kley & Maximilian Priem. 2018. How Strong is European Solidarity? BSSE Working Paper No. 37. Berlin: Freie Universität Berlin.

Jürgen Gerhards, Holger Lengfeld, Zsófia S. Ignácz, Florian K. Kley & Maximilian Priem. 2017. Wie solidarisch ist Europa? Konzeptioneller Rahmen und erste empirische Befunde einer Umfrage aus 13 EU-Ländern [How Strong is European Solidarity? Conceptual Framework and First Empirical Results of a Survey Conducted in 13 EU Member States]. In Geschlossene Gesellschaften. Verhandlungen des 38. Kongresses der Deutschen Gesellschaft für Soziologie in Bamberg 2016, edited by Stephan Lessenich.