National minorities - proactive players for social cohesion?
The Citizenship and Ethics Cluster aims to foster minority research in the new 21st century discourses that require different approaches to understanding national minority narratives.
While the security and justice discourses continue to be articulated, discourses of cohesion, citizenship and environmental survival are beginning to form. These are discourses that have yet to manifest themselves in the area of minority research.
The European citizenship discourse has formed over the last couple of decades and often takes its cues from the public debate on EU constitutionalism and the so-called ‘democratic deficit’. National minority narratives inform the European citizenship discourse, incorporating articulations of values-driven acts and actions.
Impacts of acts and actions are bigger and wider than those generated by top-down contributions to the integration of Europe. They are social and cultural trends aimed towards the formation of a European civil society, a vast, dynamically inter-connected and multi-layered European social space consisting of many thousands of nongovernmental initiatives, networks, personalities, movements and organisations.
In fact, national minorities are likely to accumulate more social and human capital than the average citizen due to the nature of national minority existence (Competency Analysis, 2007). Social capital and participation are thus the key words in the narratives that national minorities put forth in terms of citizenship.
Because most of Europe’s national minorities live in border regions, the importance of the acts of citizenship that they perform takes on a European dimension, not only as a bilateral phenomenon but as a European integration phenomenon creating spaces of co-operation rather than confrontation.
In 2015, the Cluster will continue exploring the current dynamics within minority communities that contribute to or challenge the active citizenship values and practices, and will pay particular attention to education as a powerful mechanism for bringing about positive social change.