European solidarity

Funding details

Principal investigators: Prof. Jürgen Gerhards (Freie Universität Berlin) & Zsófia S. Ignácz (Goethe University Frankfurt)

Duration: 1.10.2015 - 31.12.2019. The project operates at the Freie Universität Berlin.

The project is a sub-project of the DFG Research Unit "Horizontal Europeanization"

Funding agency: Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, German Research Foundation)

Overview of the project

The crisis of the European banking system, and of the Eurozone, and the economic crisis in some of the member states of the European Union have put the solidarity between the member states to a test. While many scientists and political actors assume that solidarity exists on the nation state level only and cannot be reached on a European level, other scholars have contesting views. They suggest that the prerequisites for a European solidarity already exist, concluding that the process of deepening and democratization of the European Union can move forward. The present research takes these claims as a point of departure and explores the level of European solidarity and the factors influencing it. Thus, the project poses the following two research questions:

  1. To what extent do citizens of a member state of the EU show solidarity to citizens from another member state and how does this level of European solidarity relate to national and global solidarity?
  2. Which factors are relevant for explaining differences regarding attitudes towards European solidarity? Can the supporters and opponents of European solidarity be determined based on their social position, and their ideological standing and does this then lead to cleavages boosting political conflicts?

A standardized survey conducted in five member states of the European Union will serve as the empirical basis for the research. We are thereby not interested in analyzing the social field of collective actors trying to create a new definition of transnational solidarity. Instead, we will analyze average citizens’ meaning of solidarity, and look at how the social space of solidarity is structured. Additionally, we will also explore to a certain extent how European solidarity related to national and global solidarity, in order to assess the fluidity of the phenomenon.


Ignácz, Zsófia S. 2021. "Similarities between European and National Solidarity. An Empirical Thought Experiment Applied to 13 European Countries on Attitudes towards Redistribution." 1(1):1-32. (Open Access:

Ignácz, Zsófia S. 2019. Contrasting Generalized and Policy Attitudes toward Social Europe: Understanding the Discrepancies. BSSE Working Paper. No. 39. Berlin: Freie Universität Berlin. (only online available)

Gerhards, Jürgen, Holger Lengfeld, Ignácz, Zsófia S., Florian Kley, and Maximilian Priem. 2019. European Solidarity in Times of Crisis. Insights from a Thirteen-Country Survey. London/New York: Routledge.

Gerhards, Jürgen, Zsófia S. Ignácz, Florian K. Kley, Holger Lengfeld, and Maximilian Priem. 2019. “How Strong Is European Welfare State Solidarity.“ in Horizontal Europeanisation. The Transnationalisation of Daily Life and Social Fields in Europe, edited by M. Heidenreich. London: Routledge

Gerhards, Jürgen, Holger Lengfeld, Zsófia S. Ignácz, Maximilian Priem & Florian K. Kley. 2018. European Welfare Solidarity in Focus: High Support for European Social Safety Net. EUVisions. (only online available).

Jürgen Gerhards, Holger Lengfeld, Zsófia S. Ignácz, Florian K. Kley & Maximilian Priem. 2018. How Strong is European Solidarity? BSSE Working Paper No. 37. Berlin: Freie Universität Berlin. (only online available).

Gerhards, Jürgen, Holger Lengfeld, Zsófia S. Ignácz, Florian K. Kley & Maximilian Priem. 2017. Wie solidarisch ist Europa? Konzeptioneller Rahmen und erste empirische Befunde einer Umfrage aus 13 EU-Ländern. In Geschlossene Gesellschaften. Verhandlungen des 38. Kongresses der Deutschen Gesellschaft für Soziologie in Bamberg 2016, edited by Stephan Lessenich. (only online available).