Work Package 4

National Case Studies of Challenges to Tolerance in Political Life



To investigate the meaning and practices of tolerance when it comes to issues of migrant or native minority political representation and participation.

To investigate what kind of cultural diversity is considered compatible with the ‘secular’ politics of western democracies – What special claims or requests are tolerated? – What political practices are considered tolerant or intolerant and what values/norms are considered to promote or undermine tolerance in political life?

To investigate how the embodiment of tolerance in political life norms and practices relates to concepts such as multiculturalism, liberalism, respect, understanding, national heritage and national tradition.


Description of work

All academic partners are actively involved in this WP. The WP is coordinated by Partner 4 (Universitat Pompeu Fabra, Barcelona, Ricard Zapata Barrero).

Each partner conducts a case study on their own country. We shall focus on local or national issues concerning migrant and minority political participation and representation.



The project looks into three categories of issues and claims arising in political life:


Presentation of self in political life and norms of interaction

  • Groups or individuals or political parties that are against democracy, express illiberal values, supporting violence or racism

Political practices

  • Transnational political engagement

Institutional arrangements

  • Claims for special representation (e.g. ethnic or religious minority asking to have their own institutional bodies, the existence of religious parties)


Description of work

Task 4.1 Each partner will identify key challenging events or issues in relation to the above three sets of topics.


Task 4.2 Each partner will review the available secondary sources (e.g. media coverage, internet sources, blogs, political debates, parliamentary proceedings if relevant, policy consultations, other grey material and of course relevant academic studies if available, paying special attention to studies in the language of the country under study). We shall use this material to answer the questions: What kind of and how much cultural diversity is tolerated in political life? In particular, what kind of claims or practices are considered as incompatible with the secular character of European democratic politics and hence as non tolerable? What values/norms are considered to promote or undermine tolerance in political life? How are minority identities/cultures represented, if they are, in mainstream politics?


Task 4.3 Each partner will conduct 15-20 qualitative interviews with social and political actors in relation to a key political event that has raised the question of a migrant or native minority group’s compatibility with the democratic politics of the country of settlement. We shall interview party representatives, MPs and MEPs, local councillors/politicians, media professionals and of course members or representatives of minority or migrant institutional structures of political representation. These qualitative interviews will follow a semi-structured interview guide focusing on the specific event but also covering wider issues of secularism and politics in Europe. The interview guide will cover the following points: (a) What was the issue at stake in that particularly key challenging event? (b) How do they evaluate the decision/solution adopted? (c) What were in their view the values or principles that informed the eventual solution/decision? (d) Does the tension arising from that particular event persist – is this issue still unsettled in reality and if yes, why? (e) What could be an alternative, better solution/decision to that particular key challenging event? (f) What does tolerance mean for them in the space of democratic politics?


Task 4.4 Interviews will be transcribed verbatim and will be inserted into a Computer Assisted Qualitative Discourse Analysis Software. Interviews will be analysed adopting the Critical Discourse Analysis tradition looking at discursive ‘topoi’ and at rhetoric strategies used by actors.


Task 4.5 Each partner will draft a country report on practices and conceptions of tolerance developed to deal with the quest of minorities for effective participation and representation in the political system in ways that respond to their special needs and their special modes of understanding of their political identity and loyalty to the state. This report will be based on secondary sources, contextual knowledge of the fieldwork and the qualitative interviews conducted. Each partner will also draft a Policy Brief on tolerance and cultural diversity in political life based on the country report and on the input obtained through the discussion group with stakeholders outlined below.


Task 4.6 Our draft reports will be presented in at least one discussion group bringing together MPs, MEPs, party leaders, local councilors, regional councilors, trade union representatives, members of religious or social organisations that are involved in political life, media professionals, political scientists and/or political communication experts.



D4.1 Final Country Reports on Concepts and Practices of Tolerance in Political Life (to be delivered on month 26).
D4.2 Synthesis and Highlights of Country Reports on Concepts and Practices of Tolerance Addressing Cultural Diversity in Political Life (to be delivered on month 28).
D3.3 Policy Briefs on Tolerance and Cultural Diversity in Political Life (to be delivered on month 28).

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Basic Information


Project Coordinator:
Prof. Anna Triandafyllidou,
Robert Schuman Centre for Advanced Studies (European University Institute)

Funded by: the European Commission under the Seventh Framework Programme, Socio-economic Sciences and Humanities

Duration: 1 March 2010-31 May 2013

Disclaimer: the views expressed in this web site do not necessarily reflect the views of the E. C.