The LIVEWHAT Final Conference took place in Brussels on Thursday 24 November 2016. This public event brought together members of the LIVEWHAT Consortium, external scholars and policy-makers with the aim to present and discuss the main project findings and offer both a scholarly and policy-oriented perspective on how citizens react to economic crises fueling public debate.
The LIVEWHAT documentary film “Citizens and the Crisis” was screened during the conference, followed by a discussion with the audience. Drawing on the LIVEWHAT findings, the documentary film showcases the social and political consequences of the 2008 economic crisis and the responses of citizens in each of the nine countries studied by the LIVEWHAT project: France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Poland, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and the UK.
During the conference’s workings, two interactive discussion groups with academics, national policy-makers, and civil society organizations were organized in the form of panel discussions. The first panel focused on the theme of ‘Economic Crisis and the Rise of Populisms’, shedding light on the complex interactions between economic crisis and the rise of populism in Europe today. This panel addressed the ways in which the 2008 economic crisis turmoil has been connected with the rise of populist political movements and parties in several European countries. Panelists discussed how deprivation, economic hardship, and labor market problems such as a rise in unemployment and other personal and social consequences of the economic crisis have been found to favor vote for extreme-populist parties and participation in populist movements.
The second panel discussed the theme of ‘Social Policies in Times of Crisis – Who Carries Burdens, Who Gets Protection?’, delving into the implications of the recent economic crisis for social policy and vulnerable groups who are major recipients of social programs. This panel offered reflections on the social issues Europe faces as the result of the recent economic crisis and the curtailment of social programs in several countries. The panelists stressed that the distribution of the ‘pain’ now associated with the crisis is differentiated among countries, reflecting existing political and economic conditions and welfare state types. Overall, panel members shared facts, commented on LIVEWHAT findings, offered opinions and responded to audience questions.