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Transforming a sense of solidarity in Europe

An Edinburgh researcher and interdisciplinary collaborators are investigating the role played by emotions in politics, and how this might explain current relationships between states and people in Europe.

Professor Laura Cram of the School of Social and Political Science will lead the University of Edinburgh’s contribution to the three-year project, which aims to identify ways of rebuilding a sense of community among European people and states.

Professor Cram, who leads the neuropolitics research lab (NRLabs) at the University of Edinburgh is working with an interdisciplinary team of international partners.

She said:

“The current climate in which many feel a sense of alienation, how we create and maintain the social ties that bind us is an important question with profound consequences for national and international policy-makers.”

Project aims

The project aims to:

  • Understand the emotional impact of the challenges facing the European Union and its citizens in different social, political, economic and territorial contexts
  • Produce a full picture of responses from the public in the media and on social media, to the European Union and its challenges
  • Understand the workings behind actions, narratives and symbols that are important for addressing emotional needs and for building a sense of social belonging, security and cohesion amongst European Union citizens

Working collaboratively

The project brings together experts from a wide range of disciplines, including researchers in cognitive neuroscience, cognitive psychology, philosophy, communications science and political science, to build a complete picture.

The research team will use big data and experimental approaches to examine the unfolding emotional landscape in different European territories. They will ask how visceral responses matter - for example, in relation to the European Union’s response to its current challenges.

Sharing the findings

The findings will be shared with policy makers, research institutions and cultural innovators across Europe, including EU’s Joint Research Centre, the European University Institute and influential art practice at Studio Olafur Eliasson.

Professor Cram said: “I am most excited about the neuropolitics research lab’s collaboration with this amazing group of internationally renowned research labs, working at the interface of cognitive neuroscience, cognitive psychology, philosophy, communications science and political science.

"Trying to understand the role played by emotions in politics and how this might explain current relationships between states and their peoples in Europe is more pertinent than ever.”

Funding

The research has been awarded EUR 1,093,600 in funding from VolksWagen Stiftung, as one of its Extraordinary Projects.

Research partners

  • Professor Andreas Roepstorff, University of Aarhus, School of Culture and Society, Interacting Minds Centre

  • Professor Michael Bang Petersen, University of Aarhus, Politics and Evolution Lab (PoNE Lab)

  • Professor Michael Pauen, Institut für Philosophie, Berlin School of Mind and Brain, Humboldt- Universität Berlin

  • Dr Dominika Kasprowicz, Department of Journalism, Media and Communication, Jagiellonian University in Krakow

  • Professor Manos Tsakiris, Department of Psychology, Royal Holloway University of London, Great Britain & The Warburg Institute & The Institute of Philosophy, School of Advanced Study, University of London
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