Society and innovations: understanding the contexts, processes and consequences


Horizon 2020 Framework Programme CLOSED


The times of social, economic, technological and cultural changes we live in generate opportunities as well as new challenges for people, society and culture. Innovations will bring (assumed) benefits and (perceived) threats. They may bring economic progress but also societal anxieties and feelings of insecurity. Technological changes will affect employment and production as well as ethics, trust, legal frameworks, decision-making processes, social protection mechanisms, education and learning. At the same time, society will shape these technological changes. The changes will open discussions on values and identities, principles of democracy, questions of social justice, cohesion and inclusion, knowledge and information and the meaning of work and leisure. There will be changes in the way people communicate with each other (and, increasingly, with machines and robots) and find meaning in their lives. To ensure that future innovations and decision-making are imaginative, culturally and historically informed, ethically grounded and context-specific, a knowledge base on the contexts, processes and consequences of innovations is needed.


The proposed research will focus on the ethical, legal, social, economic, educational, gender, cultural, religious and historical contexts and consequences (or impacts) of innovations. Inter- and transdisciplinary research will be promoted for example, on the consequences of the digital turn on democratic values and procedures, political participation, on inequalities (gender, race, ethnicities, etc), societal cohesion, the influence on education and learning, work, employment, entrepreneurship, social protection mechanisms and the Welfare State as well as on identities, gender aspects, legal issues and ethical concerns, cultural practices, the arts, communication media, public discourse, public spaces and security.

The overarching goals will be to analyse, explore and consider solutions to the challenges and opportunities social and technological innovations bring to society. Research will help understand how society and innovations are mutually interdependent and will gauge societies’ capacity for integrating innovations and for dealing with change. One important factor will be to analyse the ways in which democracy and societies’ (sustainable) development is influenced by innovations, bringing historical and cultural perspectives together with visions of the future. Knowledge from transnational social sciences and humanities research, and insights in how culture can shape societies, will allow to assess past and present policy-making on political, socio-economic and cultural repercussions of innovations and inform future policy-making on alternatives. It will enable individuals and societies to cope with the societal transformations and the accelerated paces of change.

The ERA-NET Co-fund Action and the transnational projects funded under the call for proposals will address innovations and technological change from both humanities and social sciences perspectives and will be a laboratory for inter- and transdisciplinary co-creation. They will create new designs for combining qualitative and quantitative methods and will promote dialogue between researchers, innovation actors, policy-makers and civil society.

Proposals should pool the necessary financial resources from the participating national (or regional) research programmes with a view to implementing a joint call for proposals resulting in grants to third parties with EU co-funding in this area.

In order to mitigate the risk of underspending the EU contribution, applicants are requested to demonstrate that at least 20% of their contributions is provided separately and in addition to the amount needed to match the Union contribution to the co-funded call.

Proposers are requested to include other joint activities including additional joint calls without EU co-funding.

The proposal should demonstrate that these co-funded other activities exclude any overlaps with related on-going actions co-funded by the EU under Horizon 2020 Societal Challenge 6 / “Europe in a changing world – Inclusive, innovative and reflective societies”.

The Commission considers that proposals requesting a contribution from the EU of maximum EUR 10 million would allow this specific challenge to be addressed appropriately. Nonetheless, this does not preclude submission and selection of proposals requesting other amounts.

Expected Impact

The ERA-NET Cofund action will effectively strengthen trans-national, pan-European research networking and synergies among national/regional and EU research programmes in the area of humanities and social sciences research. Further synergies of existing networks in this field are expected in regards to new findings on interdisciplinarity. The ERA-NET Co-fund Action will combine the analytic and transformative powers of humanities and social sciences in understanding processes of change and consider solutions when societies face the introduction of innovations. It will create a platform for exchange between research and society. It will contribute to a knowledge base for policymaking and will help formulate more enlightened and effective societal and cultural policies for the future.

It will align national funding strategies and funding on the topic of innovations and their impacts. Projects funded under this call will help to understand the contexts and deep impacts of innovations, drawing lessons from the past, allowing policy makers and societal actors to enter into public discourse and understand and manage the consequences of the digital transformation. The action will enhance inter- and transdisciplinarity.

Cross-cutting Priorities

Socio-economic science and humanities

Application date
Humanities : Anthropology & Ethnology, History, Philosophy, Theology and religion
Social sciences : Demography, Law, Economy, Geography, Management and Public administration, Gender studies, Identities, gender and sexuality, International Relations, Political science, Information and Communication Sciences, Sociology