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Brussels, 18 February 2000

Understanding the dynamics of European society

Key words: research programme, socio-economic research

Socio-economic research is an increasingly important component of European research policies' strategies whose main focus has so far been in the domain of the natural and engineering sciences. 43 socio-economic research projects will be launched shortly, and the coordinators of these projects will be in Brussels at the "kick-off" meeting to present and discuss their projects with each other and with the competent Commission Services. These 43 projects have been selected for support by the European Commission out of nearly 200 applications submitted under the key action "Improving the Socio-economic Knowledge Base"1. They tackle some of the crucial issues which affect the lives of European citizens today, such as changing family structures, new forms and concepts of work, challenges to welfare systems, knowledge dynamics, employment and growth, governance, citizenship and European integration.

Commenting the launch of the new projects, Research Commissioner Philippe Busquin said: "Socio-economic aspects are an essential part of all EU research, and this particular key action now embarks upon a study of our society, of what we are, how we are and what will become of us. The issues here are topical, about our changing everyday life, and reflecting that this new key action will in fact be a dynamic research process, responding to emerging challenges, and fostering a dialogue between researchers and policy-makers."

The key action's second call has now also been published and includes major research topics on employment, social cohesion, learning, European integration and EU enlargement as well as on coping and adaptation strategies to change at levels ranging from the individual to public policies.

For further information:

For more information on 'Improving the Socio-economic Knowledge Base' see the website of the programme on the CORDIS server at:


Details of the 43 projects being launched are available on request. Three of these projects are outlined below by way of illustration as to the type and scope of the research being undertaken.

Family structures are undergoing rapid change.

"New Kinds of Families, New Kinds of Social Care: Shaping Multi-dimensional European Policies for Informal and Formal Care" is a project which aims to identify innovative methods for combining family and formal care provision for young children and older people. The focus for this research is four of the key family types that are most at risk from current socio-economic challenges: single parent families, multi-career families, migrant families and multi-generation families. Researchers will examine the affects of demographic, economic and labour market changes on the social care arrangements of selected families in Finland, France, Italy, Portugal and the UK, and the adaptations and innovations used by these families for their care. Results will be delivered to groups of users, providers, managers, policy-makers and experts at local level.

What is the role of employees' participation in the final merger's outcome? Can international merger experiences in Europe provide a model for employees' participation in the future European firm?

"European Mergers and Employees' Participation: An Industrial Economic and Anthropological Approach" is a project that sets as an objective to understand how this major structural change in the industry impacts employees' participation in the firms. Combining economic and anthropological perspectives, this research will focus on the strategic implications (production, internal reorganisation, industrial and geographic relocation of the firm's activities, work force adjustment, flexibility, wages, working time) and aims to validate a general framework and a methodology that could be enlarged to a number of countries.

What is the impact of European integration in transforming our identities vis à vis the nation-state?

"Europeanisation, collective identities and public discourses", is the first attempt at a European level to create an inter-disciplinary research network on questions of European identity. The role of the media and of public discourses in the process of identity formation will be examined, as will the mechanisms by which collective identities change through the increasing involvement of social groups and actors in European policy-making. This research will lead to greater understanding of the impact of European Union enlargement upon national and social identities.

List of Research Projects

Work and Welfare

  1. Growth and European Labour Markets
  2. European network of Economic Policy Research Institutes
  3. Vocational identity, flexibility and mobility - in the European labour market
  4. New understanding of European work organisation
  5. Between work and welfare: Improving return to work strategies for long term absent employees
  6. Pay inequalities and economic performance
  7. The contribution of social capital in the social economy to local economic development in western Europe
  8. Can improving low-skilled consumer services jobs help European job growth?
  9. Social convoy and sustainable employability: Innovative strategies of outplacement/replacement counselling
  10. Innovative firm's performance, internal/external workforce flexibility and personal/social consequences
  11. Households, work, and flexibility
  12. The dynamics of social change in Europe

Family, gender and welfare

  1. Female employment and family formation in national institutional contexts
  2. Network for integrated European population studies
  3. CHER: consortium of household panels for European socio-economic research
  4. The housing dimension of welfare reform
  5. The social problem and societal problematisation of men and masculinities
  6. New kinds of families, new kinds of social care: Shaping multi-dimensional European policies for informal and formal care
  7. Gender and Qualification. Transcending gendered features of key qualifications for improving options for career choice and enhancing human resource potential
  8. Social exclusion and social solidarity: Public participation and welfare reform
  9. Improving policy responses and outcomes of socio-economic challenges: Changing family structures, policy and practice
  10. The education of the Gypsy childhood in Europe

Finance, Economy and Technology

  1. Privatisation and financial market development
  2. European integration, financial systems and corporate performance
  3. The future of Europe's rural periphery, the role of entrepreneurship in responding to employment problems and social marginalization
  4. Assessing the impact of technological innovation and globalisation: The effects on growth and employment
  5. Integration of macroeconomic and S&T policies for growth, employment and technology
  6. Labour market effects of European foreign investments
  7. Ways of organisational learning in the chemical industry and their impact on vocational education and training
  8. European mergers and employee's participation: Industrial economic and anthropological study of Franco-German cases
  9. Co-ordinating competencies and knowledge in the European automobile system
  10. Innovation dans les petites et très petites entreprises et dynamique du développement local
  11. National corporate cultures and international competitiveness strategies - the challenge of globalisation for European SMEs
  12. Regional adjustment strategies to technological change in the context of European Integration

Governance and citizenship

  1. Does implementation matter? Informal administration practices and shifting immigrant strategies in four Member States
  2. Border discourse: Changing identities, changing nations, changing stories in European border communities
  3. Uncertainty and insecurity in Europe
  4. Education and training for governance and active citizenship in Europe: Designing formal, non-formal and informal lifelong learning education intervention strategies
  5. Genre et gestion locale du changement dans sept pays de l'Union Européenne
  6. Governance by Committee: The role of committees in European policy-making and in policy implementation
  7. Achieving sustainable and innovative policies through participatory governance in a multi-level context
  8. Democratic participation and political communication in systems of multi-level governance
  9. Europeanization, collective identities and public discourses

1. This key action is part of the 'Improving Human Research Potential' horizontal research programme.

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PRESS RELEASES | 24.02.2000