SOCIAL RESPONSE TO EUROPE’S REFUGEE INFLUX: SOME THEORETICAL CONSIDERATIONS
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European migration and asylum policies reflect the public opinion of the continent’s citizens. This is the presumption of this article outlining a theoretical analysis of Europe’s civil and civic society and speculating what would be necessary to change from the currently prevailing mood of paranoia and nationalist exclusivism to a more generous open, equal and humanitarian society. After outlining the current public opinion climate in the EU, the text builds upon Jürgen Habermas’s public sphere theory and Nancy Fraser’s post- Westphalian critique thereof, I use Ferdinand Tönnies distinction between Gemeinschaft (community) and Gesellschaft (society) as well as M.R.R. Osenwaade’s study of the civil and civic society concluding with an appeal for broad political reforms, because only when political elites change their approach to society and governing will Europe become a compassionate and generous society. The article’s contribution to this debate centers upon the notion that civil society as a distinctive social organization is antithetical to citizenship and instead generates individuals whose lives evolve around individualism, consumerism, and personal gratification rather than democracy, political responsibility and participation. Only with a strong but open state counter-posing the neoliberal economic trends, can we move closer to the ideal civic society.
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