How Did the 2008 Economic Crisis Affect Social and Political Solidarity in Europe?
14 Pages Posted: 28 Jan 2010
Date Written: January 19, 2010
One possible outcome of the economic crash of 2008 was that the majority or mainstream members of a society would direct their anger and fear against the minority or marginal members of their society. The result would be not only a deteriorating national and international economy but also increased hostility and fear among racial, ethnic, or nationality groups in a country. Social solidarity would decline, perhaps irrevocably. Another possible outcome of the 2008 economic crash was that both mainstream and marginal members of society would lose faith in their governments, or even in democratic governance more generally. Political solidarity would decline, perhaps irrevocably. To provide one type of evidence on whether these fears were warranted, I compared results for questions asked in both 2006 and late 2008-2009 on the European Social Survey for thirteen western European countries.
The results show that Europeans did lose faith in their national economies over those two years, but did not lose faith in their national governments or in the practice of democracy. Similarly, in the majority of these thirteen countries, respondents did not lose more faith in parliaments, the legal system, or politicians between 2006 and 2008. Finally, views did not change a great deal with regard to the impacts of immigration on one’s country or the desirability of permitting more immigrants of various kinds. That result holds for those who do, and those who do not, feel discriminated against. In sum, so far as public opinion surveys can demonstrate, the economic crisis of 2008 did not undermine social or political solidarity in western Europe,
Keywords: solidarity, public opinion, 2008 economic crisis, western Europe, discrimination, immigration
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