Margit Feischmidt & Eszter Neumann (2022) The political aspects of solidarity mobilizations in the context of shrinking civil society during the first wave of COVID-19, European Societies, DOI: 10.1080/14616696.2022.2100443
This paper contributes to the literature on solidarity mobilizations and the framings of social and political change in the context of the shrinking welfare state, de-democratization, and repressive state policies towards civil society. These issues are explored through the lens of interview-based research on Hungarian solidarity initiatives that emerged in response to the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic between March and June 2020. We specifically look at the ways in which volunteers and activists engaged in solidarity activities associated with healthcare, care-work, and education; accounted for their aspirations; conceptualized social responsibility; and reflected on the crisis management of the state. We found that newly emerging grassroots actors reinforced the documented trend of depoliticization in civil society. Although most respondents formulated a depoliticizing narrative, they did offer interpretations of their public role and collective action, values, and responsibilities, and pronounced a desire for social change. Nevertheless, to account for these framings, we need to move beyond the binary understanding of politics in solidarity and civil society research.