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The link between capital inputs and success in life are broadly accepted, but very rarely discussed. Professor Jani Erola is using his ERC funding to explore the sociological implications of this relationship. His research concentrates on the complex interaction between a family’s resources and children’s success over the course of their lives: examining how families act collectively to determine the next generation’s achievements. Prof. Erola is a speaker at the 18th World Congress of the International Sociological Association (ISA) which opens on 13th of July in Yokohama, Japan.
As a concerned citizen, you might feel angry about youth unemployment in your country being too high, your local sports centre closing down or the polar ice caps melting. But what are you going to do about it? For example, do you intend to vote in this month’s European Parliament elections, to make your voice heard and influence key decision makers? When it comes to political engagement, what factors will ultimately determine the course of action you choose to take?
It feels as if humanity has never been more connected. We live in ever-expanding cities, stay in constant contact and even have online friendships with people we have never met. But have human social relationships really changed that much since we were hunter-gathers some 200 000 years ago? Are we suited to living in a world where everyone is apparently supposed to know everyone else? And most pressing of all, how can we achieve social cohesion at a time of great urbanisation and globalisation?
The European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) makes decisions on religious freedom that affect the rights of over 800 million people in 47 countries. A famous case is the Lautsi v. Italy decision which prevented the display of the crucifix in classrooms, and was later revoked after a public outcry.
Dr Effie Fokas, a Greek researcher, has received an ERC Starting grant to study the influence of ECtHR decisions on the public. Looking beyond the legal implementation of the decisions, she hopes to discover how they change local perceptions of religious rights, grassroots movements and national case law.
European countries have different cultures of capitalism and employment. But in the face of challenges like globalisation and the financial crisis, the various models are changing – in different ways. At the National University of Ireland, Maynooth, Professor Seán Ó Riain is using an ERC Starting Grant to understand how European employers and employees are making ‘new deals’ in response to these challenges.
Hallucinations have been the seeds of inspiration of legendary filmmakers such as Luis Buñuel, Terry Gilliam or David Lynch. Auditory hallucinations are a major symptom of schizophrenia. These inner voices people hear in the absence of any external acoustic input can be very disruptive for health and for social life. Professor Kenneth Hugdahl, who holds an ERC Advanced grant, has developed an iPhone app to help patients to re-focus their attention. Based at the University of Bergen in Norway, he participates in the “Horizons for Social Sciences and Humanities” conference in Vilnius on 23 and 24 September 2013 and exposes the first results of his ERC project.
During the 20th century, the experiences of post-communist states in Central and Eastern Europe were very different from those of much of Western Europe. Have these different experiences fostered different attitudes when it comes to public space, and ‘public goods’ like health care, education or the environment? Dr Natalia Letki of the University of Warsaw in Poland is using an ERC Starting Grant to carry out an ambitious multi-disciplinary study of attitudes and behaviour regarding ‘public goods’ across this region – drawing on political science, sociology, economics and even psychology.
“The next war will be fought over water, not politics,” predicted United Nations Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali in 1991. But environmental changes and pressures also have impacts that – though just as important – may be slower and more difficult to spot.
Nowadays, European cities are witnessing unprecedented levels of migration and population change. In an era of super mobility and super diversity, how do people develop the capacity to live with difference? This question is asked by Professor Gill Valentine, a social scientist financed by the European Research Council (ERC). Her research is particularly pertinent in these times of economic crisis, as history has shown a hardening of attitudes towards 'others' in difficult periods. She will collect a unique set of data on everyday understandings of difference in the UK and Poland with the view to inform and nuance European policies and strategies in the field.
A good and balanced diet is central to overall healthy living. However, diet-related diseases have increased in the last decades and became a major public health concern in most developed countries. Consumers’ information and responsiveness are therefore crucial when they purchase goods. On the occasion of the consumers’ rights week, Prof. Rachel Griffith, an ERC Advanced grantee 2009 based at the Institute of Fiscal Studies (UK), explains her research about consumer food purchasing behaviour, firm food pricing behaviour and their impact on nutrition.