Mobilizing for the commons – a pan-European conference in Gdansk (2016)


In the second decade of the twenty-first century, issues of solidarity have once again dominated political debates on both sides of the Atlantic. In the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis, questions of inequality and solidarity have become intertwined – especially in countries that have implemented severe austerity measures. Over the past year, however, questions of both national and international solidarity have also been central when it comes to the treatment of refugees and migrants. These “crises” have led to polarization, but also to an increase in grass-roots mobilization expressing discontent with national governments or EU policies, and seeking to create alternative forms of community within European societies and beyond.

Solidarity requires a notion of the commons which was at the heart of the debates staged at the conference Mobilizing for the Commons in Gdańsk from 4 to 6 November 2016. The conference was jointly organized by Eurozine, the Institute of Human Sciences in Vienna, Res Publica and the European Solidarity Centre as the 27th Meeting of European Cultural Journals and the 10th Solidarity Conference. Finally, more than 100 editors and intellectuals from Europe’s leading cultural journals participated in the event. Below you can see all discussions during the conference.

After the conference we published special edition of Res Publica, where presents essays and interviews authored by conference speakers and panelists, as well as reports from the debates.

Welcome Addresses and Keynote Speech by Ugo Mattei

The Solidarity of Europeans? (Guérot, Cichocki, Przybylski)

New Social Movements. Fight for Citizens’Autonomy or Resentment Mobilizations? (Ost, Wieviorka, Kołtan)

How do Social Movements Change Politics? How do Politics Transform Social Movements? (Krastev, Smolar, Marczewski)

Social Mobilization around the Commons (Mattei, Watson, von Thadden, Randeria)

Towards an Economy of the Commons (Felber, Tarkowski, Buljevic)

Solidarity after Brexit and ahead of Trump (Taylor, Leisegang, Jolley)

Liberalism, Populism and the Challenges of Post-Transformation in Eastern Europe and Elsewhere (Abraham, Offe, Sierakowski)

Preparations for the event were made in partnership with Erste Foundation and the Mayor of Gdańsk. The organizers wish to extend special thanks to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Poland, the Foundation for Polish-German Cooperation, and Connected Action for the Commons network, co-founded by the European Cultural Foundation (ECF). Special thanks also go to the media partners, including Gazeta Wyborcza Trójmiasto, Tygodnik Powszechny, radio and