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LIVEWHAT aims to provide evidence-based knowledge about citizens’ resilience in times of economic crises allowing for more effective policy responses to the negative consequences of such crises. It examines the ways in which European citizens have reacted to the crisis that, at different degree of intensity in different countries, struck Europe since 2008, but also how they deal with economic crises and their consequences more generally.

While the focus of the research is on citizens’ responses (individual and collective), LIVEWHAT also examines policy responses so as to have a baseline for assessing citizens’ resilience in times of crisis. Attention is thus focused on the broad range of coping strategies which European citizens might (or not) enact under the influence of a number of factors such as the scope of the crisis, policy responses to the crisis, public discourses about the crisis, and the individual characteristics of those who are hit by the crisis. The analysis of these factors is essential to understanding how crises affect people’s life and, as a result, to designing sound policies aimed at avoiding or alleviating their negative consequences.

Crises especially threaten the everyday life of most deprived groups of the population (e.g. low-skilled workers, precarious workers, working poor, unemployed, single mothers, migrants). Yet, particularly intense crises are also likely to affect those who are not exposed to insecurity during ordinary times, such as certain sectors of the middle class. This raises a number of crucial questions: Which citizens are affected by economic crises? Which kinds of citizens are affected by the policies deployed in response to such crises? What kind of effects can be observed? How do citizens respond to such situations? What measures and policies can policy-makers envisage to avoid or alleviate the negative consequences of economic and other types of crises?

What leads citizens to develop modes and forms of resilience in times of crises – as opposed to fatalism or rejection of involvement in public life – is a fundamental issue for the whole of Europe and beyond. Thus, systematic data for comparison will be produced at the national level for all the European countries under study in this project in order to go beyond existing studies of resilience that have only looked at developing nations, or have otherwise limited their analysis to specific regions or have only conducted analyses of disadvantaged communities within specific nations.

LIVEWHAT’s comparative perspective also allows for consideration of intermediate contextual factors at national level for nine European countries namely France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Poland, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and United Kingdom. In particular, a large cross-national comparison of this kind helps to consider relevant variations in terms of both the scope of the economic crisis and the national characteristics of the institutional system. This comparative perspective has a number of implications for the overall strategy of the project’s work plan. In particular, the project’s research workpackages and related tasks are conducted in parallel across all the countries included in the project so as to maximize the benefits of comparison.