€1 million project investigates the place of minorities in Europe

A consortium of European resereachers, including from the Universities of St Andrews and Dundee, have been awarded a €1 million grant to explore the experience of minorities and the ways this affects their inclusion in or their alienation from the majority in society.

The prestigious funding by the Volkswagen Foundation will see the team to focus on two specific minorities – Muslims and Roma people. It will explore the challenges of misrecognition, i.e. the experience of being treated as if one does not belong to a society one has grown up in and feels part of.

The research will provide a new way of looking at core social issues such as inclusion, integration and security. It places a critical emphasis on the way in which minorities are treated by the majority and, more specifically, investigates the critical role played by the experience of misrecognition in undermining the social attachment of Roma people and of Muslims in European countries.

Professor Nick Hopkins, from the University of Dundee said, “We are tremendously proud to be part of this world class research team and to have been successful in obtaining this highly prestigious grant. Our own contribution to the project involves examining how members of the Muslim community in Scotland experience being under surveillance as they go about their everyday lives and the impact this has on their sense of belonging to Scotland.”

The cross-European collaboration is framed around three core questions:

  • In their everyday lives, do minorities feel as if they are recognised as ordinary members of the community or treated as outsiders? In particular, what is the impact of systems of surveillance (such as CCTV cameras in public places) upon minority group members?
  • What is the impact of feelings of misrecognition upon the social inclusion of minorities in society, upon their attitudes towards authorities, and upon their willingness to listen to those who advocate anti-authority viewpoints?
  • To what extent - and under what conditions - do experiences of misrecognition play a part in explaining how some people become involved in acts against authority and society. Are such experiences turning points in the trajectories of those who have gone down the path towards active opposition?

One of the co-leaders of the project, Professor Stephen Reicher from the University of St Andrews, said, “If we want to understand how minorities orient to authority and society, we must look at things through their eyes, and examine how many seemingly small things in their everyday lives, such as the sense of being under constant surveillance, add up to a big message as to whether they do or don’t belong in the community.”

The project is entitled “MisMiE: Misrecognizing minorities in Europe”. The main partner universities in the project are the University of Amsterdam (Netherlands), University of Bielefeld (Germany),  University of Dundee (UK), Eotvos Lorand University (Hungary), University of Paris, Nanterre (France) and the University of St Andrews (UK). The project runs for two years from the start of 2019.

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