HORIZON EUROPE┋The interrelation between social, cultural and political identities, as well as the sense of belonging, and democracies


Call image

Expected Outcome

Projects should contribute to all of the following expected outcomes:

  • Provide a comprehensive analysis of the interrelations between social, cultural and political identities, the sense of belonging and identification with a group, and democracy, including in matters of political representation, participation and trust. This includes considering the intersecting, fluid and fragmented dimension of identities and their relation to the need to belong as well as values.
  • Build on findings to formulate policy recommendations to address, prevent and correct negative trends, including piloting of strategies and frameworks to prevent discrimination, marginalisation and alienation. Insights on how to contribute to encompassing identities with concrete policy recommendations are highly encouraged.
  • Develop critical insights into the ways in which processes of social, cultural and political participation can contribute to further fostering the sense of belonging/ownership to local, national and European democratic institutions and processes, or the diffusion of antagonistic identities or social norms.


The role of identities and the sense of belonging in democracies is of uttermost importance, where both have been key to define and understand political participation in democratic societies. In the past few years, Europe has arguably experienced an increased fragmentation of identities, given rapid generational, demographic, social, religious and political changes. Simultaneously, the pandemic has highlighted the importance of communities in times of uncertainty. This has opened up questions about the negative impact that such fragmenting trends might have on democratic life, as well as the barriers that certain groups face to be actively and meaningfully engaged in democratic participation, among these youths, migrants, and LGBTIQ+ collectives.

Conversely, it can be argued that the involvement of certain communities in democratic processes of decision-making (through quotas, but also through other participatory processes at different levels such as participants sortition) can contribute to further foster the sense of belonging to a democratic society, and further increase their participation in democratic life.

In this context, proposals should help further investigate the way that democracy and its key tenets such as political representation, participation or trust are interrelated to social, cultural, and political identities and a sense of belonging and identification with different communities. This includes gender, ethnic, multicultural, multilingual and spatial identities and subjectivities, amongst others, taking into account the cumulative effects of discrimination. To better understand social identities and their role in shaping political and social discourse, proposals could consider the condition of migration and refugees, segregation as well as inclusion; the notion of European identity and heritage; people with disabilities; perception of belonging to urban/rural communities, to local communities or to diasporas; the role of media and social media in identity fragmentation, mixtures of ethnic, political and religious identities; the role of the cultural and artistic sectors in representing the diversity of identities (cinema, film series, literature, etc.).

Proposals should identify and explore barriers and factors that limit or impact the engagement of certain communities in democratic practices and processes, and erode their political participation, representation or trust in democratic institutions. Moreover, they should consider and propose policies, frameworks and recommendations to prevent and revert such negative trends, as well as ways to further foster the sense of belonging to democratic societies. This could include the piloting of participatory processes or civic engagement activities targeted at identifying and discussing the issues underpinning the sense of democratic belonging in said communities. Identities do not happen in a vacuum. People are attached to groups that grant them an identity that has currency in the social domain: being identified as a member of a certain group grants social capital. They belong to groups they value and that cater to their social and psychological needs. Proposals should therefore also develop critical insights into the ways in which processes of social, cultural and political participation can contribute to further fostering the sense of belonging/ownership to local, national and European democratic institutions and processes.

Finally, proposals may also study social representations and intergroup stereotypes, which determine to which groups individuals choose to belong. The benefits of group membership and identification, including the social capital that comes with group projects as an inherent part of social representations, may also be analysed. In that regard, the role of identification and belonging in the diffusion of antagonistic identities or social norms online and offline should be studied.

It is important that proposals integrate an intersectional, historical, fluid and multiple approach towards identities, as well as consider the varying concepts and experiences of “belonging” and “identification”, as well as the possibility to develop several feelings of belonging to different communities simultaneously.

Proposals should also utilise participatory methods for research, involving academic and non-academic actors, with a focus on community empowerment. They might utilise methodologies that build on disciplines such as political and social psychology, behavioural politics, history, sociology, gender and race theories, religious studies, post-colonial studies, etc.

Clustering and cooperation with other selected projects under this topic and other relevant projects are strongly encouraged. Proposals may consider social innovation activities to stimulate social change, new social practices, social ownership or market uptake.

Proposals are encouraged to collaborate with the JRC Competence Centre on Participatory and Deliberative Democracy,[1] in particular with respect to the design and utilisation of participatory methodologies and how they consider, shape or transform individual and group identities. Proposals are also encouraged to collaborate with the JRC unit working on the Enlightenment 2.0 research programme,[2] particularly with respect to the influence of identities in evidence uptake, political decision-making and effective remedies that can benefit collective decision-making.



Application date
Humanities : Anthropology & Ethnology, Arts and Art history, History, Literature, Philosophy, Theology and religion
Social sciences : Geography, Gender studies, Identities, gender and sexuality, Psychology & Cognitive Sciences, Political science, Information and Communication Sciences, Sociology
Citizen Sciences