A new vision of Europe
Pursuing a sustainable development and broadening social justice and cohesion are some of the challenges that Europe is currently facing. What if we could learn how to solve these challenges by using the social and political innovations taking place in different corners of the globe? Professor Boaventura de Sousa Santos suggests that a new approach can be developed in Europe based on the diversity of practices elsewhere.
Copyright Pedro Medeiros © Boaventura de Sousa Santos
As cultural diversity is increasing both within and outside Europe, some sort of institutional transformation is needed. The world beyond the European frontiers is full of exciting experiences and innovative ideas which may be key to reinforcing well-established European traditions – including democracy, social cohesion and human rights. This ERC-funded project aims to demonstrate that these alternatives, however, cannot be made credible and significant if Europe continues relying on the theoretical and political thinking that has dominated so far.
In order to do so, Prof de Sousa Santos and his team will mainly focus on four interconnected topics: democratising democracy; transformative constitutionalism, interculturality and State reform; alternative economic models; and human rights. This means addressing matters such as the expansion of citizenship rights to non-nationals and immigrants; the European identity-national identities dichotomy; the governments’ response to environmental issues, and the status of the social wellbeing model including, among others, the human right to health care.
For each area, Prof de Sousa Santos and his team will assess the experience of five non-European countries (Bolivia, Brazil, Ecuador, India and South Africa) in relation to the themes described. The insights and questions emerging from this study will be applied to current situations in four selected countries within Europe (France, Italy, Portugal, and the United Kingdom) with the aim of enriching the European debate.
The methodology in use includes new approaches to traditional social sciences’ techniques, such as focus groups or workshops, detailed comparative case studies and the development of novel modes of producing and disseminating collaborative knowledge, via for instance the participation in public debates and the involvement of international circles of journalists. The new discourses enlightened by Prof de Sousa Santos’ project, from which the diversity of practices can be appreciated and learnt, may provide the knowledge necessary for Europe’s potential to transcend its past.