Stiftelsen för forskning inom områden med anknytning till Östersjöregionen och Östeuropa

Anti-racist contentions in the Baltic Sea region – a study of anti-racist activists’ interplay with politicians and civil servants

Ämne: Sociologi
Projektledare: Magnus Wennerhag
Startår: 2017
Projekttyp: Projekt

The on-going refugee crisis and recent years’ electoral successes for right-wing parties with anti-migration stances have in many European countries led to an increase in antiracist mobilizations. Anti-racist activists have rallied for refugees’ rights and taken part in voluntary work with newly arrived immigrants.

This project investigates the interplay between anti-racist activists, politicians, and civil servants during significant campaigns of the anti-racist movement in four countries of the Baltic Sea region: Finland, Germany, Poland, and Sweden. While Germany and Sweden both have a tradition of extensive immigration, Finland and Poland have had more restrictive immigration policies.

The study’s main goal is to contribute to a better understanding of the relation between contemporary social movements and established actors within the political system. In particular, the project aims to describe the key factors that promote or discourage contacts and collaboration between activists and politicians/civil servants.

The following questions will be addressed: What types of interplay occur between activists, politicians, and civil servants? What are the activists’, politicians’, and civil servants’ main motives for seeking, affirming, or refusing contacts and/or collaboration with each other? How do the different actors, in the light of their own experiences, perceive the risks, merits and outcomes of this interplay? By interplay we mean various forms of advocacy-related interaction. These forms of interaction may range from close collaboration, via sporadic contacts, to one-sided pressures.

Four types of actors will be analysed: politicians, civil servants, ‘moderate’ activists, and ‘radical’ activists. While ‘radical’ activists tends to be sceptical towards contacts with state representatives and prefer more conflict-oriented strategies, the ‘moderate’ activists tends to see contacts with institutionalized politics as necessary. The project’s main method will be individual semi-structured interviews.

The project will generate new knowledge and theoretical insights about why interplay between civil society actors and institutionalized politics sometimes occur and other times do not. The project will also deepen our knowledge of the relation between state and civil society in contemporary democratic societies in the Baltic Sea region and in Eastern Europe, and cast light on contemporary conflicts about minority groups’ conditions and rights in this region.

Final report - Magnus Wennerhag - Anti-racist contentions in the Baltic Sea region