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Session Overview
RN08_02a_P: Disaster, Conflict and Social Crisis (General Session II)
Wednesday, 30/Aug/2017:
4:00pm - 5:30pm

Session Chair: Eugenia Petropoulou, University of Crete
Session Chair: Antti Silvast, University of Edinburgh
Location: PC.2.10
PANTEION University of Social & Political Sciences 136 Syggrou Avenue 17671 Athens, Greece Building: C, Level: 2.

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Can referendums face the rise of Euroscepticism in the European Union or can they threaten the process of the EU integration? Grexit versus Brexit.

Nikos Sarris

National Centre for Social Research, Greece

The outbreak of the economic crisis in Greece highlighted in an elegant way the crisis of the political system and the lack of confidence in representative institutions. Through a series of research findings (Eurobarometer, Pew Research Center, Public issue etc.), this paper presents the increasing distancing of citizens from the procedures of representation and the general lack of trust by both the Greeks and Europeans in institutions. According to Eurobarometer’s data, Greece holds the first position between EU-28 in many of distrust indicators.

Considering the European Union's political and economic predicament in contemporary states, referendums are a very attractive tool used to win the loyalty of voters. The democratic legitimacy of the European Union is being questioned, and moderate governments and their Euroskeptic opposition alike are turning to voters for their own political gain, using referendums as part of their electoral campaigns. Do referendums constitute a substantial way to mobilize citizens to overpass political apathy and the crisis of the Political?

Through a comparative analysis on the referendums in Greece in 2015 and in Great Britain in 2016, the paper attempts to answer the question whether forms of direct democracy, such as referendums, can substitute the lack of trust in representative institutions, particularly regarding European issues, and thus contribute to a better quality of democracy.

The paper argues that given that the two referendums had different goals, each government used the outcome in the most suitable way. In Greece the government ignored the plebiscite, while in Britain the referendum’s outcome is going to be implemented. A pan–European referendum under certain conditions could be an attractive tool for the empowerment of democracy in Europe.

When the catastrophe saves the world. About the positive potential of the nuclear accidents in the context of environment

Aleksandra Brylska

University of Warsaw, Poland

Based on the principle of the case studies I would like to examine the narratives and images created in the context of the Chernobyl and Fukushima’s catastrophes. By analysing particular cases I would like to investigate how the memory of the catastrophe is created and how these events have an impact on the relations between men the (post)catastrophic environments. I would like to state that atomic catastrophe can be treated as a subversive change, which by removing the whole social group from specific territory, causes that spaces catastrophe affected by disasters become the better place for the future generations. In my paper I would like to reflect on the thesis that the catastrophes, especially those related with the atomic energy, have the positive potential in them. You may almost say that the human disaster is the hope for the future.

Overlapping crises: Euro Maidan protests, regime change and military conflict in Ukraine –effects on social trust and self-identification.

Alberto Veira-Ramos1, Tetiana Liubyva2

1Universidad Carlos III de Madrid, Spain; 2Institute of Sociology, National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine

Big changes began to take place in Ukraine when the EuroMaidan revolt began in November 2013. These included a regime change in February 2014, reforms in governance and anti-corruption measures. Lack of diligence and efficiency to comply with the people´s expectations led to increased distrust on institutions. However, the effect of external aggression (occupation of Crimea in March 2014 and Donbass revolt in April 2014) may have counterbalance some of the negative effects of increasing distrust on national institutions and democracy by enhancing internal cohesion and patriotic sentiment.

Data from national-wide survey Ukrainian Society, carried out by the Institute of Sociology of National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine since 1992 (sample size 1800 respondents) has allowed us to build time series of variables accounting for attitudes towards government, institutions and self-identity of Ukrainian people and to use specifically designed and tested indicators measuring people’s readiness to protest or revolt. Data is representative at regional level.

We have observed that protests, regime change and military occupation are episodes that have significantly altered levels of trust on national institutions, geopolitical orientation, perceptions regarding the functioning of democracy and self-identity of the Ukrainian public.

It is noteworthy that before the crisis period begun, an overall decrease of trust levels on governmental and civic institutions and on fellow countrymen was taken place between 2008 and 2012. After protests, regime change and military occupation occurred, distrust in some institutions accentuated but in other cases the trend completely reversed.

Whilst trust in parliament, government, courts, media and banks has worsened, attitudes towards local authorities, civic organizations, the Army or fellow compatriots have improved.

Cultural mobilities in migration studies: Albanian immigrants in Greece’s economic crisis

Maria Panteleou

University of the Aegean, Greece

In the modern globalized world, the multiple and frequent movements of immigrants, the complicated social networks that create and link two or more countries, the uncertain economic, social and political settings of the states directly affect the lives and future decisions of people pushing us to adopt new theoretical and methodological approaches, which can better grasp their transnational experiences. The approach of cultural mobilities suggested in this paper addresses the culturally and socially constructed aspect of modern mobilities through the lived experience of the immigrants themselves and studying within the specific social and economic contexts where it occurs. Ethnographer’s work is to follow mobile practices of immigrants, adopting a multi-sited approach, in order to capture all of their experience without distinguishing 'here' and 'there' which in modern times seem blurred, due to frequent movements, unforeseen paths and economic instability of countries. The case study of Albanian immigrants who work seasonally in Greece (Corinth) and often move inside the country in order to find work due to the economic crisis and visit several times a year their home to maintain their links with their relatives or other family matters demonstrates that the distinction between country of origin and destination obscured in contemporary times. Τhe mobilities of people affected by the economic and social conditions of countries thus seal the uncertainty of their future plans. These complex circumstances create mobilities; both of them are overlapping notions and must be studied together.

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