Research - 20.06.2012 - 00:00 

Mediterranean region under scrutiny

Sociologists from universities of the Mediterranean region and the HSG will examine the social situation in Greece in early July. A preview of the research trip to Greece with the Fondation Pierre Bourdieu.<br/>


20. Juni 2012. From 29 June to 1 July 2012, the Institute of Sociology and the Fondation Pierre Bourdieu will organise an international research seminar on the Greek island of Tinos for the first time. In view of the current situation in Greece, the place seems extremely unfavourable, but with regard to the research topic that has been chosen, it is plainly exemplary.

In Tinos, about 20 sociologists from almost all Mediterranean countries will spend four days discussing social issues that are politically explosive: the nexus between the economic situation, the educational system and the labour market in the Mediterranean region. The focus will be on the future of unemployed young people who are highly qualified and have acquired a great deal of educational capital.

A lost young generaton
No matter whether it is in Spain, Portugal or Greece, or in the North African countries – indeed, even in France and Italy: everywhere, the Mediterranean region presents the picture of a lost young generation, whose hopes, grounded as they are on their high educational investments, for corresponding opportunities in life – both professionally and privately, in terms of both income and status – are being dashed.

Although they are distinctly better qualified than the generation of their parents, young people from Spain, Greece, Tunisia and Algeria hardly stand a chance of achieving even remotely comparable incomes and living conditions in the foreseeable future. In sociological parlance, we can speak of a “manifestly social reproduction crisis” in this context. This crisis does not only affect young people without work but also their families, who invest(ed) care, energy and money, but also hopes for a better life in the education and training of the coming generation.

Sociology as a “science of crisis”

In Greece, sociology as a “science of crisis” is therefore in the right place, in the midst of a social laboratory, where experiments are also being conducted with consequences that extend far beyond the geographical confines.

During the conference, sociologists will present national reports with topic-related data about the current situation in their respective countries. As “ethnographic informers”, they will shed light on the situations in Egypt, Italy or Portugal, which is rather difficult to take in in its entirety. The goal will be to engage in a collective process of reflection in order to arrive at a diagnosis of this international social crisis and to be able to publish the findings in a joint text.

Research workshop in precarious surroundings
In view of the situation in Greece, the research trip of St.Gallen’s sociologists Franz Schultheis, Michael Gemperle and Patricia Holder is precarious in itself. In the face of prevailing contradictions, it is almost impossible to gauge in which direction the country will move in the near future.

The chosen format of the research workshop, which is markedly different from the usual type of academic colloquy, is fraught with many imponderables. Thus the content and the form of the Tinos seminar are a good match. The second dispatch on this will follow in late June from Athens, where the St.Gallen sociologists will conduct interviews with the population before boarding the ferry to Tinos.

Photo: Photocase/ Tangent

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