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ESRA 2023 Preliminary Glance Program

All time references are in CEST

Survey methods for studying the impact of multiple crises on attitudes towards the EU: findings and methodological challenges 2

Session Organiser Dr Simona Guglielmi (University of Milan)
TimeTuesday 18 July, 14:00 - 15:30
Room U6-22

EU seems to be trapped in a state of permanent crisis. Starting from the European Sovereign Debt Crisis in 2009, the EU has been faced with the Refugee crisis, Brexit, the Covid-19 Crisis and, more recently, the armed conflict in Ukraine and Energy Crisis. As a common feature of the different crises, European solidarity was called into question by numerous actors in respective domestic arenas. Divergent visions of what European integration is or should be aroused.
This session aims to collect papers focusing on the potential of survey research to investigate the impact of the protracted and complex crises on public attitudes toward the EU.
Survey research has been largely used to study changes in public support for the EU since the Beliefs in Government series in the 1990s. There have also been numerous studies using survey data to investigate the impact of the economic crisis, the Refugee crisis, and Brexit on political attitudes toward the EU. During the COVID-19 pandemic, there was massive use of survey research.
Public opinion studies based on survey data have had the merit of pointing out that public support for EU and EU solidarity in turbulent times depend on many factors, both individual and crisis-related (e. g. nature of the crisis, kind of aid,...). Furthermore, through survey experiments, it was possible to investigate specific mechanisms underlying the formation of socio-political attitudes. However, little is known about the impact of multiple and protracted crises over time.
This session aims to collect papers that illustrate the potential of survey data for studying the impact of crises on public attitudes towards the EU, with particular reference to EU membership and EU member state solidarity. Especially welcome are papers based on survey experiments or panel data, focusing on single countries or comparative approaches.

Keywords: European integration, public opinion, multiple crises, survey experiments

EU solidarity in troubling times: does cultural cleavage matter?

Dr Simona Guglielmi (University of Milan) - Presenting Author
Mr Gonzalo Franetovic (University of Milan)

EU member state solidarity has become a relevant issue in the political debate following the so-called “Euro crisis” and the “migrants-refugees crisis”. Covid-19 pandemic has reopened the discussion on the “boundaries” of EU solidarity, stressing the North-South-East divide.
While several studies have investigated the “public discourse” on EU solidarity, we know little about the mechanisms underlying the formation of citizens’ preferences. Previous studies have suggested that individual willingness to show EU solidarity depends on many factors, both individual (e.g age, education, political ideology,..) and contextual (e. g. causes of the crisis, kind of aid, …) Geographical proximity seems to matter to. In this regard, there are some pieces of evidence that European identity may contribute to public support for EU solidarity, by overcoming territorial cleavages. From a social identity perspective, these results are in line with Common Ingroup Model. However, some scholars have pointed out that some conditions – such as a pandemic in which uncertainty is high and intergroup comparisons are salient -are highly conducive to a dangerous emergence of “rivalrous cohesion” (Abrams, 2010). As result, European inclusive subordinate identity and solidarity among national subgroups could be questioned, according to Ingroup Projection Model.
The paper aims to contribute to the topic by focusing on the Italian case. Data come from the rotating module “European Solidarity” of ResPOnsE COVID-19, a Rolling Cross-Section survey carried out in Italy from April 6th, 2020 to December 31th, 2021 (ResPOnsE Covid-19 project, University of Milan, spsTREND Lab). It includes questions specifically devoted to testing to what extent the perceived cultural proximity between countries moderates the link between European identity and EU solidarity. Furthermore, we test to what extent this socio-psychological mechanism is conditional to political factors such as political ideology and Euroscepicism.

Subjects, cohorts, attainment or selection? Disentangling the effect of schooling on political beliefs in adulthood

Dr Nicole Martin (University of Manchester)
Dr Ralph Scott (Cardiff University)
Dr Roland Kappe (University College London) - Presenting Author

The causal role of educational experiences in shaping political behaviour has received extensive attention in recent years. However, measurement of education is often limited in political surveys, with little detail beyond the highest level of qualification achieved. Consequently, it is often still a “black box”, with few possibilities to understand precisely how people’s education shapes their views in later life. Moreover, education is studied in isolation from cohort and period effects. However, educational are likely to colour how young people in their formative years see crisis events. We use new administrative and survey data to address these questions. Specifically, we are able to link detailed administrative data on adults’ school records to their political views in a large-scale probability household panel survey, and analyse a succession of schooling reforms in England that affected the subjects offered to students in different schools. This allows us to understand whether it is the level of attainment, whole cohort and period effects, or rather the educational content and self-selection into different pathways that explain large effects of education on attitudes (including Euroscepticism) and electoral behaviour in England. Our results contribute to our understanding of the ways that educational expansion have shaped patterns of social and political conflict.

Equality, need, or equity? Explaining public preferences for the allocation of EU financial assistance

Mr Thomas Resch (University of Vienna) - Presenting Author
Mr Fabian Kalleitner (University of Vienna)

Do distributive justice principles explain public preferences for the allocation of financial assistance by the European Union (EU)? Recent literature on public welfare preferences suggests that justice principles are crucial to understand when individuals prefer to reallocate public funds. However, individuals often favor multiple distributive justice norms and might choose to follow the principle that best fits their interests in specific contexts. We analyze whether the degree to which individuals favor distributive justice principles in the form of equality, need, and equity can explain allocation preferences for EU financial assistance in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Afterward, we study whether self-interest, elite cues, and identity shape the relationships between people’s justice perspectives and their allocation preferences. To analyze these questions, we use data from a survey conducted in July 2020 and in May 2022 in Austria. Preliminary results show that individuals state preferences in line with their general fairness norms. That is, individuals who favor the need principle want to allocate more funds to countries that suffered the most during the COVID-19 pandemic. Contrary to that respondents favoring the equity principle take more emphasis on EU budget contributions. Anti-European party cues and strong national identities weaken the importance of the need principle and emphasize the role of equity in explaining citizens’ allocation preferences. Our findings suggest that justice arguments are crucial to understand public preferences in times of crisis even in cross-national contexts. However, researchers have to be cautious when interpreting the direction of causality as our results indicate that individuals might choose justice principles that fit their allocation preferences rather than the other way around.