Research projects

Current projects

DEMETRA – Democratic Governance, Environmental and Climate Challenges, and Societal Transformation: Deliberation, Inclusiveness, and Citizen Empowerment for Sustainable Food Systems

DEMETRA will demonstrate means to alleviate tensions between democratic governance and climate and sustainability transitions through an analysis of new deliberative participatory processes (DPPs) such as citizens’ assemblies and e-governance. These bottom-up processes can be highly inclusive allowing to afford a genuine political voice to all segments of society. Accordingly, gender and intersectional aspects (e.g., socioeconomic background, ethnicity) will be focused on throughout the project in particular with regard to citizen participation. DEMETRA analyzes the micro-, meso-, and macro-level opportunities for DPPs across Europe supporting the transition towards a more sustainable future; focuses in particular the transformation towards a more sustainable food system as a crucial case study; systematically compares DPPs’ setup, processes, and outcomes to identify best practices that contribute to citizens’ democratic engagement and the co-construction of sustainable societies; identifies DPPs that maximize inclusiveness and empowerment across social groups, particularly those at the margins of society; and identifies widely applicable solutions to engage in the transformation toward sustainable food systems. DEMETRA builds on a multidimensional approach that combines macro- (institutional), meso-(organizational), and micro-level (individual) explanatory factors; a cross-national comparative design that includes European countries with different DPPs experience and different food systems (Estonia, France, Germany, Italy, Sweden, Switzerland, and UK); and an integrated methodological approach based on multiple sources and methods (including population surveys, organizational survey, semi-structured interviews, participant observation, and public policy analysis). In view of the climate imperative and related environmental challenges, DEMETRA seeks to provide tools for a democratic governance of sustainability transformation.

Funding source: European Commission (HE), SERI (Swiss participation)

Scientific responsible: Marco Giugni

Collaborators: Ophelia Nicole-Berva, Eva Fernandez Guzman Grassi, Elena Reinhart, Victor Sanchez-Mazas, Nenad Stojanovic

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SINCRONY – interSectIonal iNClusion in delibeRation and participatiON with Youth

SINCRONY aims to ensure the meaningful inclusion of youth who experience social disadvantage and marginalisation in deliberative and participatory processes (DPP). The project will target the factors and processes responsible for reproducing political inequalities in youth engagement in deliberative and participatory processes based on intergenerational and intragenerational power imbalances and youth intersectional positionalities. The goal is to offer policymakers, public servants, researchers, teachers, youth workers, facilitators of deliberative processes, and youth CSOs concrete instruments, guidelines, and solutions to renovate deliberative and participatory practices implemented in public governance and schools. The consortium of nine partners, consisting of seven universities, the ALDA European network of local democracies, and an SME focusing on communication and dissemination, will contribute multidisciplinary and multi-methodological expertise in psychology, education, sociology, political science, gender studies, social research, intersectionality, and media analysis. A Stakeholders’ Collaborative Network, including expert advisors, local municipality representatives, schools, civil society, and youth organisations, will also be engaged throughout the project. Together, they will: (a) enhance the inclusivity of deliberative practices in two local municipalities (in Italy and Finland); (b) design, test, and deliver an innovative, co-constructed intersectional approach called the Intersectional Participatory Action Research-and-Deliberation, piloted in seven local municipalities and four schools (in Italy, Portugal, the UK, and Denmark); (c) design participatory formats; (d) create tools; (e) define ethical guidelines By improving the democratic quality, inclusiveness, effectiveness, and legitimacy of deliberative and participatory processes, the project will contribute to greater social justice for all youth.

Funding source: European Commission (HE), SERI (Swiss participation)

Scientific responsible: Marco Giugni

Collaborators: Valentina Holecz, Victor Sanchez-Mazas, Nenad Stojanovic

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Immigrant Solidarity in Switzerland: Attitudes and Practices of Support to Others

The proposed research project focuses on immigrant solidarity, that is, immigrants’ attitudes and practices of support on the part of immigrants for the welfare and/or rights of others. Immigrant solidarity will be studied by taking into account aspects located at the micro-level (identifying and analysing the attitudes and practices associated with the diversity of forms of solidarity on the part of immigrants, considering how the impact of unequal immigrant trajectories can shape immigrant solidarity), meso-level (looking at the interplay between immigrants’ embeddedness within social networks and immigrant solidarity attitudes and practices, both cross-sectionally and over time), and macro-level (examining how the contextual setting of host societies favours or hinders immigrant solidarity). We addresses the following research questions: What are the forms of immigrants’ attitudes and practices of solidarity in Switzerland? What factors shapes such attitudes and practices? To what extent do immigrants' access and embeddedness in networks influence their solidarity practices and attitudes? How do subnational political contexts concerning immigrants' social and political inclusion interact with their attitudes and practices of solidarity? How does immigrants’ social embeddedness and subnational political contexts interact and shape immigrant solidarity? Two main working hypothesis guide the project. First, variation across subnational integration regimes influence immigrant solidarity, either directly or indirectly via their impact on immigrants' access to resources and networks. Secondly, the differences in attitudes and practices of solidarity among immigrants are most likely related to their life trajectories, according to their legal status and unequal access to human and social capitals, which shape their solidarity towards others. The proposed research relies on a mixed-methods approach combining a variety of quantitative and qualitative methods of data retrieval and analysis. Specifically, we will employ five distinct methodologies, each allowing us to capture different aspects of immigrant solidarity: a systematic review of the literature on immigrant solidarity; an analysis of public policies and practices towards the promotion of immigrants inclusion in the host society at the Cantonal level; an analysis of existing longitudinal surveys; survey experiments; and biographical interviews. The project will contribute to the literature on immigration and solidarity in a number of ways: by providing key insights to understand the immigrant category as multifaceted and subjected depending on individual life trajectories; by further developing the conceptualisation of structural inequalities and individual well-being as covariates of solidarity across vulnerable groups; by improving our understanding of immigrants' preferences for institutional and non-institutional forms of solidarity; by generating robust and methodologically sound datasets across diverse levels of analysis; and by enhancing the active use of extremely valuable research data produced by other researchers, favouring a prime venue to bring together Swiss immigration interdisciplinary scholarship.

Funding source: Swiss National Science Foundation
Main applicant: Marco Giugni

Collaborators: Cristina El Khoury, Eva Fernandez Guzman Grassi

Conseils des Habitant-e-s


Fruit d’une démarche collaborative entre l'Institut d'études de la Citoyenneté et le Bureau de l'Intégration et de la Citoyenneté du Canton de Genève, les Conseils des Habitant-e-s de Lancy, Vernier et Thônex sont des expériences de démocratie participative. Les Conseils des Habitant-e-s constituent des espaces de délibération collective ouverts à l'ensemble des habitant-e-s des communes partenaires, sans distinction de statut de résidence, d'âge ou de niveau de formation. Dans chaque commune, deux groupes de 25 habitant-e-s délibèrent durant quatre journées de travail sur des enjeux choisis par les habitant-e-s de la commune et qui les touchent directement. Parmi ces thèmes, l'on trouve notamment la cohésion sociale, la transition écologique et l'aménagement des espaces publics. L'objectif de ce processus est l'élaboration de propositions concrètes à l'attention des communes concernées, qui s'engagent à y répondre de façon justifiée et publique. Cette recherche-action vise à amener les outils démocratiques toujours plus à la portée des habitant-e-s afin de développer les conditions cadres de leur participation citoyenne. En tant que terrain de recherche, les Conseils des Habitant-e-s offre des études de cas idéales pour comprendre les dynamiques de participation et délibération citoyenne, leurs obstacles, ainsi que les opportunités concrètes d'innovation démocratique au niveau local.

Funding source: Bureau de l'Intégration et de la Citoyenneté du Canton de Genève, Commission fédérale des migrations


Scientific responsible: Matteo Gianni


Collaborator: Victor Sanchez-Mazas