Sustainable Solidarity? Civil Society Action and Citizens' Attitudes Towards Disabled People. a Comparative Analysis of Italy and the UK

Thursday, July 13, 2017
East Quad Lecture Theatre (University of Glasgow)
Simone Baglioni , Yunus Centre for Social Business and Health, Glasgow Caledonian University
Veronica Federico , Department of Legal Studies, University of Florence
Nicola Maggini , Centro Italiano Studi Elettorali, University of Florence
Thomas Montgomery , Yunus Centre for Social Business and Health, Glasgow Caledonian University
Despite the economic and social stress Europe has experienced since the beginning of the economic and financial crisis in 2008, a web of civic engagement sustained by civil society organisations work on a daily basis to reverse the social effects of economic breakdown and austerity policies. Unmet needs have taken two main paths: disillusionment and anger, purposely exploited by political entrepreneurs; and resilience and social engineering, deployed through a range of civil society organisations, social movements, and social innovations.

This paper focuses on the latter by analysing the role and functions of CSOs active in the field of disability, as well as peoples’ attitudes and behaviours towards disabled people by means of an individual-based survey run in late 2016 comparing two countries, Italy and the United Kingdom. Both countries have addressed the economic and financial crisis with austerity policies, in the name of public deficit containment. In both countries civil society organisations and citizens-based initiatives have provided answers to unmet needs towards keeping ‘sustainable’ social solidarity alive. Such initiatives are now reaching a critical phase though: they struggle to maintain their capacities in a context in which public resources are still locked, while they strive to have their work recognized for what it is: an essential contribution to people well-being.

The paper relies on data emanating from an EU (Horizon 2020) funded project investigating transnational solidarity across eight European countries (