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Europe's Un/Deserving: Moralizations of Inequality in Comparative Perspective

English title Europe's Un/Deserving: Moralizations of Inequality in Comparative Perspective
Applicant Tosic Jelena
Number 192170
Funding scheme Project funding (Div. I-III)
Research institution Transkulturelle Studien SHSS Universität St. Gallen
Institution of higher education University of St.Gallen - SG
Main discipline Ethnology
Start/End 01.01.2021 - 31.12.2024
Approved amount 895'289.00
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Keywords (7)

redistribution; un/deservingness; inequality; moralization; comparison; citizenship; gender

Lay Summary (German)

Lead
Europa steht vor einem Paradoxon. In einer Zeit des beispiellosen Reichtums erscheint die Verteilung von Wohlstand und Status immer selektiver. Drei ethnographische Studien gehen der Frage nach, wie heutzutage Ungleichheit in Maßnahmen und Debatten daruber, wemwas und wieso (nicht) zustehen wurde, verankert ist.
Lay summary
Das Projekt widmet sich drei verschiedenen gesellschaftlichen Arenen (in drei Ländern
Europas) in denen die genannte Frage besonders klar in Erscheinung tritt: Staatsburgerschaft
(Einburgerung und Doppelstaatsburgerschaft) in der Schweiz; Steuern und Sozialleistungen
in Österreich; Familienpolitik und Gender in Ungarn. Alle drei Fallstudien untersuchen
soziopolitische Bereiche, die sich seit kurzem in einem Reformprozess befinden und daher
heftig debattiert und ausgehandelt werden.
Durch ethnographische Nahaufnahmen in bspw. Betrieben, Familien oder
Einburgerungsprozessen, ermöglich das Projekt Einblicke in das Zusammenwirken
alltagsbezogener und politisch-ökonomischer Dimensionen des gesellschaftlichen Wandels
im heutigen Europa. Moralisierende Argumente zu Ungleichheit stellen das Kernstuck dieser
Wandelprozesse dar, durch welche sozio-kulturelle Grenzziehungsprozesse im Alltag als auch
konkrete sozio-politische Maßnahmen begrundet werden.
Das Projekt möchte einen Beitrag zur Analyse von Transformationen im gegenwärtigen
Europa leisten, welches durch diverse aufeinanderfolgende Umbruche und Krisen von
wachsender Ungleichheit und die Zuspitzung sozialer Spannungen gekennzeichnet ist. Der
Fokus auf das Zusammenwirken von Neonationalismus, Produktivismus und konservativer
Geschlechterpolitik eröffnet den Blick auch darauf, wie verschiedene Forderungen jenseits
von ideologischer Kohärenz ihre Wirkung entfalten können.
Direct link to Lay Summary Last update: 27.11.2020

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Abstract

Europe faces a paradox. In a time of overaccumulation and unprecedented wealth, its distribution seems to become ever more selective. This selectiveness takes specific forms in the contemporary conjuncture of neo-nationalism, productivism, and gender conservatism within which the question of who deserves what and why becomes a crucial driver of the creation, maintenance, and contestation of inequalities. This project explores un/deservingness as a key and ascending mode of reshaping inequality within the contemporary transformations of European societies. Its aim is to understand un/deservingness registers in their varieties, similarities, and contrasts in three highly contested socio-economic fields, guided by the overall research question: How do claims and debates of un/deservingness play out with regards to citizenship, redistribution, and gender regimes? The project takes up timely European developments: the aftermath of recent policy changes regarding naturalization/dual citizenship in Switzerland; tax/welfare reform in Austria; and family policy in Hungary. Exploring these developments enables us to innovatively and comparatively extend research on migration, welfare, and social reproduction, while focusing not only on those deemed undeserving but also on those with privileged access to resources. The comparative set-up allows us to ask questions about the moralization of inequality in contemporary Europe both related to specific cases and on a larger scale. The study of un/deservingness requires combining various and largely disconnected bodies of literature in anthropology of migration, economy, and politics/policy (and beyond): poverty/welfare/austerity; citizenship/migration; and gender regimes/feminist scholarship. We further build on existing literature on the rise of conservative politics of neo-nationalism, productivism, and gender conservatism, while maintaining a focus on how un/deservingness plays out in specific policies implemented in the contemporary conjuncture. Epistemologically, the project aims for (a) the contrastive comparison of cases and (b) proposes a framework for analysis, based on three dimensions of inquiry: •Genealogies: the emergence of registers of un/deservingness, its logics and effects•Configurations: governance modes and agents that organize, maintain, or contest un/deservingness•Contestations: tensions and debates about inequality and its moralization.The project will apply a set of triangulated methods including ethnographic fieldwork, qualitative interviews, and critical discourse analysis. The fieldwork in each case will take particular contestations as the empirical entry point from which to reveal and reconstruct different configurations and genealogies of un/deservingness on different scales (municipalities, cantons, companies, biographies, etc.)Summarizing, the project studies the reshaping of inequality through moralizing claims of un/deservingness. It contributes to understanding the conjuncture of neo-nationalism, productivism, and gender conservatism by combining largely disconnected fields of literature, building a comparative analytical framework, and by in-depth ethnographic fieldwork.
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