On 10th May, a working seminar around the topic “The symbolic representations of the socio-economical crisis in Greece according to Greeks’ opinion about views of life” was held in the city of Thessaloniki, in Greece, in the frame of the 16th International Congress of Psychological Research: “Individuals, Institutions, Society: The World of Psychology”. The event was organised by the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki and the Hellenic Psychological Society.
During the activity, the RE.CRI.RE local team of the Aristotle University shared their research work with other scientists. In particular, they presented the results of their analysis concerning Greek people’s vision of the socio-economic crisis. Following the presentation of the findings, participants exchanged on the implications of these findings around the implementation of social care policies and programmes concerning the processes of integration and insertion of immigrants in Greek society.
The seminar was a fruitful occasion to gather opinions and ideas of academics and relevant stakeholders on key policy areas affecting citizens’ daily life nowadays, not just for Greeks, yet for all European countries and citizens as well.
RE.CRI.RE is a three-year project funded by the Horizon 2020 programme of the European Commission and run by a consortium of 15 universities and coordinated by ALDA that work together to investigate what kind of social identity change is occurring in Europe in time of crisis. The objective of the project is to analyse cultures of European societies and the impacts of the socio-economic crisis on them, in order to frame better policies at local, national and European level. To this end, civil society, policy-makers and experts of social sciences are strongly involved in all actions of the project.
The symposium was held at Valletta University Campus, in the framework of the project RE.CRI.RE – between the Representation of the Crisis and the Crisis of Representation – and aimed at communicating the results of international studies concerning intercultural relations.
Thanks to this event, the results of the studies were delivered not only to the local academic community but also to government officials. What is more, Arab members, as well as other immigrants, had the opportunity to share their thoughts and experiences on the topic. The participation of experts on International Studies, Youth Studies and Social Policy enabled the interpretation of the results and the exchange on directions to further policies.
The Re.Cri.Re study investigated social representations concerning the integration of Arabs amongst the Maltese. This was achieved through the identification of different argument structures that support or oppose integration. These argument structures pertained to six thematic clusters: sociopolitical, psychological, economic, religious, stigmatizing and cultural. The activity mainly focused on findings from research concerning intercultural relations in Malta, led by Dr Gordon Sammut (Psychology Lab).
The participants highlighted the need for more psychological studies directed at intercultural argumentative strategies, due to its invaluable transnational potential. The findings of these studies were discussed by a multidisciplinary panel of speakers and the myriad implications of the results for Maltese society were debated. Participants also exchanged on integration, Arabs in Malta, Islam and immigration in general.
Finally, the event was covered by television and the radio and a personal meeting between Dr Gordon Sammut and the President of the Republic of Malta was arranged, in order to discuss the findings of the project.
See the playbill of the event below.
Playbill (italian version)
The aim of the seminar was to present and discuss findings from Work Package 3 and to invite participants to further research activities planned to take place in the context of WP3. Evrinomy Avdi, associate professor in clinical psychology, scientific coordinator of Re.Cri.Re. on behalf of AUTH, and her colleagues, Anna Mylona and Ifigeneia Koutri, associate researchers, introduced the project rationale and the project’s research design and presented the findings of Work Package 3 of the project. More specifically, the findings of the synchronic and the diachronic analysis were presented and discussed with a focus on those findings concerning the symbolic universes in Greece. Also, the next steps of the Greek research team (Auth) concerning the implementation of focus groups with mental health and psychosocial support professionals were communicated to the seminar participants.
Twentythree mental health professionals from several local mental health and psychosocial intervention organizations as well as undergraduate and postgraduate students of the School of Psychology attended the seminar. Professionals from the following organization participated in the seminar: the Hellenic Center of Mental Health and Research, the Shelter for Women Victims of Domestic Violence, ARSIS-a non-governmental social association, and the Family Therapy Department of the Psychiatric Hospital of Thessaloniki. All participants attended the event with great interest.
The participants were mainstream teachers, specialty teachers (i.e special education, physical education, music) as well as headmasters and school counsellors. In this working seminar the UOC Research Team made a general presentation of the RE.CRI.RE. project focusing on its aims, goals, premises and structure. Also, the UOC case study entitled “Teachers’ evaluation in time of crisis: An opportunity for empowerment or a vulnerability factor? The challenge of policy making-A Greek case study” was thoroughly presented and was linked to the general rationale of the RECRIRE project.
At the end of the working seminar, a discussion with the group lead to fruitful conclusions and highlighted major and legitimate concerns of the local actors and stakeholders regarding the fundamental concept of the symbolic universes and the basic assumptions of RECRIRE and whether these are taken into consideration during the policy making process. Finally, the presentation aimed at giving incentives to the teachers about the potential benefits of their active involvement in the project and creating a network of volunteers and collaborators to participate in the research activities of the project starting in the Fall 2016. 20 teachers on the day of the seminar have expressed their desire to participate in the focus groups and gave us their contact information to further pursue our collaboration.
- Florentino Blanco: Human Rights activist with Amnesty International. Psychology professor at Universidad Autónoma de Madrid.
- Ramón del Castillo: Advisory Board member and also member of the European Cultural Parliament. Philosophy professor and Vice-Dean of Research at UNED.
- Pablo González: Economist and town councillor for PP (Spain’s right wing political party), Gijón local government (Asturias, in the North of Spain).
- Melania Moscoso: Socio-cultural anthropologist. Social activist concerning functional diversity issues. Professor at Universidad del País Vasco.
- Natalia Muñoz, town councillor for the new political party Ganemos in the city of Tres Cantos (Madrid); she comes from “The anti-austerity movement” in Spain, also referred to as “The 15-M Movement”, the “Indignants Movement” and “Take the Square”. Didactic activist concerning the shortcomings of Spanish Constitution, Treaty on European Union.
- Pablo Nicolás: Priest and also member of Catholic NGO “Cáritas”.
- Gabriel Santamaría: member of different ultra-conservative movements (catholic NGO’s such as “HazteOír” y “CitizenGo”) and team member for “Open Doors”, association working with refugees from Syria and Iraq.
- Honorio Velasco: Advisory Board member. Professor of Social Anthropology at UNED.
Evrinomy Avdi, Associate Professor in Clinical Psychology and Scientific Coordinator of Re.Cri.Re. on behalf of Aristotle University, together with her colleagues Anna Mylona and Ifigeneia Koutri, Associate Researchers, introduced the rationale of the project, described its goals, and presented the first results of Working Package 3.
Representatives from the Hellenic Center of Mental Health and Research and the Shelter for Abused Women, as well as representatives of other local stakeholders attended the event with great interest. A discussion was started regarding the effects of the economic crisis on Greek citizens’ life and its implications for mental health practices and service provision, as well as the links between the social-economic crisis in Greece and the demographic characteristics of the vulnerable population seeking professional help for psychological problems in recent years. Within this framework, Re.Cri.Re. was seen as helpful in suggesting innovative ways to conceptualize citizens’ changing psychosocial needs.
At the end of the seminar possible ways in which local stakeholders could get further involved in the project were presented, and all participants expressed their intention to support the progress of Re.Cri.Re by completing the ‘Views of Context’ questionnaire created in its framework.
If you also want to contribute to the success of the project, fill in and disseminate this questionnaire on how people represent the space they live in and how these representations are linked to their way of thinking and feeling. It is completely anonymous and only takes ten minutes to complete!
There was in the group, Carole Le Cloîérac (Ingénieur d’études CNRS, Institut d’ethnologie méditerranééenne, européenne et comparative). She highlighted crucial role of the trans-disciplinary approach in the construction of the work packages.
The presentations were followed by detailed and opened discussion on French identity and European identity. There was a critique point on the French vote concerning the referendum in the 2005 where French people showed their opposition to the European project.
The crisis challenges our tools for understanding reality, the possibility to build meanings and representations. In some cases, such as in some Italian areas, “crisis” is something durable: the prolonged inability to reverse the decline.
The “local” is still the ground where communities and policies mainly face the crisis, in positive or negative ways.
During the working seminar, three different research experiences will be presented and debated, in order to exchange methodologies and results concerning the role of policies in local development strategies.
The starting point will be the project HORIZON2020 – RE.CRI.RE. – Between the representation of the crisis and the crisis of the representation. RE.CRI.RE. explores the changes occurred in local cultures in Europe, in order to produce tools for policy-makers.
The premise of RE.CRI.RE. project is that local cultures may highly affect the effectiveness of policy implementation. Nevertheless, they are often a hidden field, unexplored or even totally ignored. Local cultures mediate the construction of meanings: which tools we have to know them and to include this knowledge in policy-making? RE.CRI.RE. project will be presented as a tool to approach public policies taking into account territorial analysis and local cultures analysis.
Secondly, during the seminar will be discussed the evaluation phase of policies, paying special attention to the ways in which “localities” build their own development path, interacting with higher levels of governance (regional, national and European). The project R.EV.E.S. – Reverse EValuation to Enhance local Strategies is part of the national strategy “Actions of support of the National System of Evaluation and of the Evaluation Teams” for the Cohesion Programme 2007-2013, implemented by FORMEZ PA.
Special focus will be devoted to Melpignano (LE, Italy) a Municipality in which policy-makers developed an effective strategy related to commons.
Thirdly, two members of GSSI (Gran Sasso Science Institute) will present the National Strategy for Inner Areas, in which they are involved as evaluators. The implementation of the strategy, goals definition and involved actors will be presented, together with local strategic documents.
The seminar is devoted to researchers, professors, students, PhD students interested in urban and regional studies, territorial policies, local cultures analysis and interdisciplinary approaches.
Playbill and Presentation