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ESF highlights social-science research priorities in Central and Eastern Europe

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A new report from the European Science Foundation has identified three research areas for social-science researchers in Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) to focus on. The interdisciplinary thematic clusters are: populations in change; new geographies of Europe; and social cohesion.

The report, ‘Central and Eastern Europe Beyond Transition: Convergence and Divergence in Europe’, aims to identify new themes for social-science research in and about CEE, which can be promoted and endorsed by national and European funding institutions.

Populations in change aims at looking into how out/in migration, regional population change, ethnic minorities and integration all affect the basic structure of CEE populations. New geographies of Europe focuses on the ‘return to Europe’, overcoming the West-East divide, on the influence of cohesion funds on local governance and on the expanding borders of Europe eastwards. Social cohesion focuses on the degree of socio-economic transformation that post-communist Europe has undergone over the last 20 years, especially in terms of social mobility and social trust.

The report also outlines eight structural recommendations for social-science research in and on CEE. These recommendations show the need to ensure a stronger presence of CEE scholars and CEE social research issues in international-level research projects. They also highlight needs in terms of the development of research infrastructure and human capital and call for the implementation of good practices in terms of governance, scientific excellence and independence.

‘Social sciences in Central and Eastern Europe were seriously distorted during the communist period.’ commented Daniel David, vice president of the Romanian Research Council (CNCS). ‘This report could help us for integrating social sciences research from Central and Eastern Europe in the international area’.