A variety of societal changes challenge our views of open society principles. They include the dissatisfaction with conventional politics expressed by populist parties; increased concerns over security and immigration, as well as nationalism and undemocratic policy changes. Civil society groups and policy-makers are mobilising to defend an open society, but there is no consensus on what it actually means.
Aim of the Voices on Values project
To help civil society organisations along with national and EU-level political actors, as well as the wider public, respond to these profound political disruptions, the Voices on Values project seeks to understand what drives the changing discourse about open societies and the mechanisms that can be used to strengthen them. It puts the spotlight on six countries: Germany and France, Hungary and Poland, and Italy and Greece.
This research is based on interviews with decision-makers and civil society leaders as well as public surveys conducted across all six countries. In these we asked people across Europe about the importance of values associated with open societies, such as freedom of expression, press freedom and the freedom of religion, and through an experimental survey design tested to what extent people’s evaluations are robust when contrasted with potential trade-offs.
Working with a network of think-tankers and researchers in six countries, the Voices on Values project produced opinion pieces and shorter data-based articles on themes like young people and civil rights as well as in-depth reports from each country and comparing findings across all of them. Additionally the project team has been contributing to debates on these issues in practice, through public events, briefings for various organisations and articles for popular media outlets.
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