Navigation path

Themes
Agriculture & food
Energy
Environment
ERA-NET
Health & life sciences
Human resources & mobility
Industrial research
Information society
  E-Commerce
  Information technology
  Internet
  Microelectronics and nanotechnology
  Multimedia
  Telecommunications
  Other
Innovation
International cooperation
Nanotechnology
Pure sciences
Research infrastructures
Research policy
Science & business
Science in society
Security
SMEs
Social sciences and humanities
Space
Special Collections
Transport

Countries
Countries
  Argentina
  Australia
  Austria
  Belarus
  Belgium
  Brazil
  Bulgaria
  Cameroon
  Canada
  China
  Colombia
  Croatia
  Cyprus
  Czech Republic
  Denmark
  Egypt
  Estonia
  Finland
  France
  Georgia
  Germany
  Ghana
  Greece
  Hungary
  Iceland
  India
  Ireland
  Israel
  Italy
  Japan
  Kazakhstan
  Kenya
  Korea
  Latvia
  Lithuania
  Luxembourg
  Malta
  Mexico
  Netherlands
  Nigeria
  Norway
  Peru
  Poland
  Portugal
  Romania
  Russia
  Senegal
  Serbia
  Slovakia
  Slovenia
  South Africa
  Spain
  Swaziland
  Sweden
  Switzerland
  Taiwan
  Tunisia
  Turkey
  Ukraine
  United Kingdom
  United States


This page was published on 19/07/2004
Published: 19/07/2004

   Headlines

Last Update: 19-07-2004  
Related category(ies):
Agriculture & food  |  Information society  |  Research policy

 

Add to PDF "basket"

What do the far right and labour markets have in common?

This question was at the centre of the EU-backed SIREN study which examined the links between changes in working life and political swings towards right-wing extremism and radical popularism. 

Understanding where working and political life intersect © Image: PhotoDisc
Understanding where working and political life intersect
© Image: PhotoDisc
As the French and Dutch elections in 2002, and recent European elections so clearly showed, Europe has seen an unexpected strengthening of right-wing extremism and radical populism. But was it really unexpected and, if not, what might explain this problematic political shift? The SIREN project asked itself more or less these questions when it set about studying how changes in working life, labour markets and social security affect European political orientations.

“It is frequently assumed that people who have problems coping with the dynamics of social change are particularly receptive to right-wing extremism or radical populism,” the project notes. But recent evidence suggested to the research team that some of the most glaring gains for the right have not been in countries with high unemployment. “Therefore, the simple equation of economic disadvantages and political consequences is not valid,” the team postulated, in 2001, at the start of the three-year study.

After conducting interviews in Austria, Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy and Switzerland, SIREN revealed that European workers have been feeling, over the past five years, increasingly frustrated about working conditions. The stress they experienced was made worse by feelings of job insecurity caused by looming unemployment and the strain on income of increasingly competitive labour markets. This foreboding translated into expressions of racism, populism and xenophobia – sentiments espoused by extreme right-wing parties.

Fine-tuning social policy
Funded under the EU's ‘Improving human potential' activities, part of the Fifth Framework Programme (FP5), SIREN's initial findings were presented during a workshop on xenophobia and racism that took place in Brussels on 24 May. The project has published its recommendations for fine-tuning policies in the areas of employment, labour markets, social security, anti-discrimination and education. It also plans to run a series of workshops around Europe, in spring, to further examine the policy implications of their findings.

“Right-wing populism and xenophobia threaten the very foundations of Europe, whose richness lies in diversity and tolerance,” commented Research Commissioner Philippe Busquin at the launch of the results. He said more needed to be known about the reasons for this growing problem. “EU research demonstrates that, when faced with low working standards, job insecurity and an overall deterioration of quality of life, some people are attracted to far-right sirens. Creating more and better jobs, realising the Lisbon agenda in its entirety is vital,” he said in a statement to mark the publication of SIREN's results.

Among the socio-economic problems identified by the study as triggering this political drift are cuts in welfare spending and fewer social protection mechanisms leading to greater social anxiety; precarious employment and living situations contributing to people feeling powerless and less able to plan for the future; and increased job competition, losses and stress in a deteriorating work climate causing feelings of social injustice.

“The magnitude and pace of social change, not least brought about by globalisation, structural economic change and new technologies, has had an impact – directly or indirectly – on the lives of nearly all European citizens. Especially changes in working life often contain threats and opportunities that not only affect economic and social status but also the personal and social identities of individuals,” the project concludes.

EU and project sources

Convert article(s) to PDF

No article selected


loading


Search articles

Notes:
To restrict search results to articles in the Information Centre, i.e. this site, use this search box rather than the one at the top of the page.

After searching, you can expand the results to include the whole Research and Innovation web site, or another section of it, or all Europa, afterwards without searching again.

Please note that new content may take a few days to be indexed by the search engine and therefore to appear in the results.

Print Version
Share this article
See also

Socio-economic change, individual reactions and the appeal of the extreme right (SIREN)
Can Jacques Chirac reunite France? (BBC News, 10 May 2002)
Dutch elections bizarre and unpredictable after Fortuyn's death (NRC Handelsblad, 9 May 2002)
Improving Human Research Potential and the Socio-economic Knowledge Base (FP5) (on CORDIS)

Contacts
Research Contacts page
  Top   Research Information Center