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Research programme

Citizenship, Migration and Global Transformations

Globalization, migration, technological innovation and climate change pose challenges to citizens in European countries. These challenges test the limits of cross-national and cross-generational solidarities, touching upon the very foundations of governance and society. This research program aims at tackling these challenges.

2019 - 2023
Olaf van Vliet

This research program tackles global challenges by bringing together inter-disciplinary teams of scholars working in economics, international relations, law, history, public administration, and other disciplines.

Globalization, migration, technological innovation and climate change pose challenges to citizens in European countries. These challenges test the limits of cross-national and cross-generational solidarities, touching upon the very foundations of governance and society.

New communication technologies, in particular social media, promote identities while destabilizing democracies by increasing polarization. Climate change and other environmental processes challenge the adaptive capacity of national institutions and threaten to unleash mass migrations. Migration raises questions regarding perceived threats and opportunities, integration and social participation, racism, and the need for (re-)defining national identity, civic responsibilities and the sustainability of national social welfare regimes. Importantly, these challenges affect citizens in all social groups, who, in varying degrees, are faced with questions regarding participation in politics and society.

These complex challenges raise critical and urgent questions that are best answered by inter-disciplinary teams of scholars working in political economy, international relations, law, history, public administration, and other disciplines. This research program will bring together scholars from these different domains.

This research program consists of two interdisciplinary sub-programs:

  • Pillar A:      Social Citizenship and Migration
  • Pillar B:      Global transformations: Challenges for citizens, democratic states, and international  cooperation
  • 6 Oct 2020

Kick-Off Meeting Pillar A: Social Citizenship and Migration 

A research team of 20 people – representing domains such as political economy, international relations, law, history and public administration - will work under Pillar A of the interdisciplinary programme Citizenship, Migration and Global Transformation. Leiden University has granted 3.5 million euro's to the research programme and it is expected to have great impact.

The research team will present itself for the first time (with short pitches) on Tuesday 6 October 2020, 13.00 in the large room of the Volkenkunde Museum. Except for the presenters there is room for 30 guests.  It would be great if you could join us. 
Registration is mandatory (due to Corona restrictions): e.suari.andreu@law.leidenuniv.nl

Many European countries face a wide variety of challenges resulting from old and new migrations. Solutions that have been formulated range from policies and regulations for immigration, to education and stimulating social participation to restructuring the welfare state. These questions all refer to what we call social citizenship, which is not about nationalities recorded in a passport, but about feelings and practices of belonging, responsibilities and loyalties.

The overall aim of this pillar is to analyze how developments in immigration and social citizenship provide challenges and opportunities for the governance of societies and to inform theory and practice.

The research in this pillar is focused on five themes each of them following a particular scientific perspective :

1) History and governance perspectives are combined to explain the outcomes and (side)effects of previous policies. This theme uses statistical policy analysis and comparative historical analysis (making use of “big data”) to address questions such as: how do and did social rights and eligibility to welfare systems for ethnic groups affect social cohesion?

2) A sociocultural perspective highlights the challenges, stereotypical imaginaries, moral discourses, and ideal pictures that institutions (schools, administrations, NGOs, government) and economic agents (insurances, banks, property developers) act upon to convey messages about social citizenship and what is expected in terms of civic engagement.

3) A socialization perspective is necessary to understand how beliefs and values about different migrant groups originate and are transmitted across generations. It will highlight the influences of parenting and education and media, commerce, and policies on how individuals develop their perceptions of social citizenship and their own and others’ roles in society from early childhood onwards.

4) By using a combination of legal, historical and social research methods, the (socio)legal perspective provides necessary insights into both the law in the books and the law in action and hence in the hegemonic nature of the law.

5) Changes in the ways in which people shape social citizenship affect political preferences that in turn may affect social institutions such as the welfare state. To understand how social rights are seen as at risk because of immigration, governance and economic perspective is necessary. It will examine if, how, when and why immigration affects the support for socio-economic policies (pensions, unemployment or healthcare).

The Center for Social Citizenship and Migration will coordinate this research pillar. The center brings together the extensive Leiden expertise in a variety of domains which study social citizenship and migration from different perspectives. The center will build on existing academic networks, such as the Leiden Interdisciplinary Migration Seminar (LIMS, est. 2008). Leiden’s migration expertise is internationally recognized, as demonstrated by Leiden’s membership of IMISCOE (International Migration, Integration and Social Cohesion in Europe; Europe's largest network of scholars in the area of migration and integration).

More information about the interdisciplinary program can be found on its website.

The liberal rule-based international order is being challenged today as never before by new ideologies, shifting distributions of power, disruptive technologies, and threats to environmental sustainability.

This pillar aims to develop better understanding of these complex challenges to democracy and the liberal international order and their impact on citizens and democratic politics. We aim to develop a set of innovative approaches to the problems and questions of global governance and to identify more effective and sustainable governance responses that citizens will support and contribute to. Given its reputation, expertise and proximity to national and international institutions, Leiden University is ideally positioned to take a leading role in this endeavour    

The pillar focuses on three subthemes:

1) Globalisation and governance: Tension between democratic legitimacy and globalized economies; openness versus tariffs and fences; national sovereignty versus effective international rules. How can globalisation be reformed or managed to avoid undermining democracy and to regain citizen participation and trust?

2) International environmental politics: The complex national and transnational politics of global environmental change. How does environmental change affect social divisions, national development trajectories, and opportunities for international cooperation?

3) International power transitions: The impact of the shifting distribution of power among states. How will the rise of China, India and other states, and thus the relative decline of US power, affect international rules, institutions and practices?

The newly-established Leiden University Center for International Relations (LUCIR) will become the focal point for this pillar. The purpose of LUCIR is to be a multi-disciplinary platform supporting and profiling the study of international affairs at Leiden University. More than 100 individuals from seven institutes across four faculties (FSW, FGGA, FGW, FdR) are involved in LUCIR.

More information about the interdisciplinary program Global Transformations and Governance Challenges (GTGC) can be found on its website.

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