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Uniwersytet SWPS - Logo

DIASPOlitic
research
international
finished

DIASPOliticUnderstanding the Political Dynamics of Émigré Communities in an Era of European Democratic Backsliding

principal investigator / project leader
Ben Stanley
Ph.D. / Associate Professor

Sociologist and political scientist

Full bio
project value: PLN 1,819,844 (3,929,000 NOK)
SWPS University’s budget: PLN 227,284 (514,800 NOK)
funding source: Peace Research Institute Oslo
funding source: The Research Council of Norway
discipline: political science and public administration, social sciences
location: Warsaw
duration: 2019 2020

The accession of some post-Soviet countries into the European Union gave a start to a wave of migration from these countries to the West in search of employment and better life. The question is how and if the migrants are socializing into liberal values and ‘remitting democracy’ home? Through the study of political dynamics of émigré communities from Central Eastern European (CEE) countries to Western Europe the researchers seek to uncover the roots and factors driving societal change in the transnational political European space.

Professor Benjamin Stanley, from SWPS University’s Center for the Study of Democracy, is the Principal Investigator in the Polish team contributing to this project.

Project objectives

The primary objective of DIASPOlitic is to understand and analyse the political dynamics of intra-European émigré communities from CEE countries and their possible contribution to democratic backsliding in Europe. This involves theorizing EU-diasporas as unique communities and transnational actors, tracing changes in political views and identities, and the nature and extent of their influence on host/home country politics, with Europe-wide implications.

Secondary objectives:

  1. Create a dataset on diaspora voting in national elections, across 9 CEE countries and diaspora populations in 17 EU/EEA states
  2. Collect and analyze qualitative data about émigré communities’ political views and voting behavior, including semi-structured interviews with 2-4 select diaspora groups, in Norway and 1-2 EU states
  3. Communicate policy-relevant evidence on the political dynamics of intra-European émigré communities and implications for the future of democracy in Europe, and submit 4 peer-reviewed articles.

The question is how and if the migrants are socializing into liberal values and ‘remitting democracy’ home? Through the study of political dynamics of émigré communities from Central Eastern European (CEE) countries to Western Europe the researchers seek to uncover the roots and factors driving societal change in the transnational political European space.

Stanley, Ben Principal Investigator
Bio
Tak
Specialization
Sociologist and political scientist
Permanent employee
Tak
First and last name
Ben Stanley
Academic degree or title
Ph.D. / Associate Professor
City
warszawa
Discipline
sociology
Position
profesor uczelni
Role in the Faculty
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Institute
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Ph.D. / Associate Professor Ben StanleySociologist and political scientist

Research Topics

How can democratic backsliding in Central East Europe (CEE) be understood in relation to the huge intra-European migration of the past decade? Whilst connections between populism and immigration are common, the roles of migrants as subjects in the rise of populism in Europe is an underexplored area, which the DIASPOlitic project will shed light on. Since the 2004/2007 EU Enlargement, some 6 mil people have moved from CEE within the EU/EEA. The political dynamics of these new EUdiasporas have remained below the radar of European studies. Migration studies have, largely, been preoccupied with other aspects than the political. Our focus is on the roles of EU-diasporas as agents, within the context of political change in Europe. Preliminary research on emigre voting patterns, interpreted as an indicator of political views, finds that some EU-diasporas exhibit stronger support for populist, nationalist and illiberal parties and candidates than home country voters do. This would counter the hypothesis of migrants “remitting democracy” back to home countries, which has been an often un-tested assumption in the field of diaspora studies. DIASPOlitic fills the research gap identified above by exploring the political EU-diasporas as political actors, their voting patterns and the impact on home country politics. Do EU-diasporas contribute to democratic backsliding in CEE?

Research Methodology

The project will undertake a three-wave panel survey of a representative sample of the Polish population between the summer of 2022 and the winter of 2023. These surveys will have three key characteristics.

  1. They will contain an innovative new set of questions designed to measure democratic values in ways that overcome the “social desirability bias” (the tendency to want to be associated with something society considers positive when answering survey questions) that many researchers believe artificially inflates the level of approval for liberal democracy.
  2. The surveys will use “conjoint experiments” (a survey technique for identifying causal explanations for the choices respondents make), to test the extent to which Poles act in accordance with liberal-democratic principles when making political choices.
  3. The panel nature of the research design will measure the views and attitudes of voters over an 18-month period, allowing us to establish whether pro-democratic attitudes and behaviors remain stable or are prone to fluctuate.

Methodology

Empirically, we will (a) describe and map the changes in political preferences of CEE diasporas after EU accession, (b) explain the roots of these changes, and (c) theorise their contribution to the political change in CEE. Additional research questions include:

  • How and why do results in diaspora votes differ from voting patterns in home countries?
  • How does migration and experiences of Western European democracies shape CEE identities: locally grounded self-identifications with ‘European-ness’?
  • Is there a ‘demise’ of a myth of the ‘West’ in CEE countries? If so, what roles do EU diasporas play here?

Relevance and benefit to society

This research is especially relevant for Norwegian public debate and integration policy, as the country is now host to substantial CEE immigrant communities. To develop an informed integration policy, it is crucial to understand the political dynamics of these communities, the way they form and express political views, and changing patterns of identification with respect to their home countries, Norway, and Europe. The project will generate new knowledge and bring together dispersed data on the political dynamics of within-European migration. We believe this has profound societal relevance, given national political debates in many European countries revolve around the question of migration, not only the refugee crisis but also EU labour migration. Our project can help identify and diagnose important socio-political problems which remain under-researched and sometimes unnoticed. A better understanding of the East-West relations through diasporas and the political dynamics in different migrant groups can help host country policymakers design more reflexive tools for enhancing integration and social coherence. This should be especially relevant for Norwegian authorities and public debate, to which we will contribute (see also Users).