Closing gaps in social citizenship. New tools to foster social resilience in Europe (EUROSHIP) (2020–2023)
The EUROSHIP project provides a new, gender sensitive and comparative assessment of the policies aimed at reducing poverty and social exclusion in Europe. The project focuses on the role of social protection systems (including minimum wage), the digitisation of work and the accessibility of social protection as well as the possibilities of social and political agency in the following groups: high-risk youth, people with care obligations who are in a precarious situation in the labour market, and the elderly or the disabled who ned long-term care. In order to maximise the social impact of the project, proposals for efficient policies shall be developed and policy-makers shall be informed of the results of work within the framework of the project together with stakeholders on the European and member state levels.
The EUROSHIP project uses innovative ways to combine various methods, data and areas (economics, political sciences and sociology): (1) interviews related to lifecourse with low-income and poorly skilled people; (2) forums with national level stakeholders; (3) a political analysis based on the analysis of documents and semi-structured interviews conducted with experts; (4) a quantitative comparative analysis of micro-level data. The association of the results of those analyses and the four central terms (social citizenship, social resilience, capability and agency) will provide a new insight into how social rights soften the impact of risks experienced during the lifecourse and influence the social citizenship capability of people in a weak position in the system of multi-level governance. It will broaden the knowledge base on which to rely in the further implementation of the European Pillar of Social Rights and thereby increase social convergence among the member states.
The project consortium is made up of representatives of different research areas from nine research establishments in eight countries and one European-level NGO. The consortium is characterised by gender balance and includes both new and experienced researchers.
Technological inequality – understanding the links between technological innovations and social inequality (TECHNEQUALITY) (2019-2021)
Recent technological innovations may significantly change the nature and extent of social inequality. Success in the labour market and more widely in the society will probably be related to different skills than before and technological innovation will also presumably change the factors that have traditionally predicted social mobility (e.g. social class, education). However, we do not yet understand these possible effects and it is therefore unclear what would be the right response of the countries to the changes entailed in innovation. The majority of the scientific literature addressing this topic is focused on the issue of whether automation will create or lose jobs. This project aims to provide a more substantive answer to that question as well, but expands the horizon of former research by focusing on the broader social impact of technological development.
Platform labour in urban spaces: fairness, welfare and development (PLUS) (2019-2021)
The PLUS project addresses the impact of the platform economy on the essence of work, welfare and social protection. The project focuses on the so-called 4th segment of the industrial revolution, as that allows it to view the possibilities and challenges associated with the future of work, social innovation, and fair growth. The platform economy is emerging as a strategic sector in terms of application of digital technologies, investments and new jobs. The project’s goal is to sketch a picture of such transformations proposing an innovative approach that identifies urban environment as central for measuring and evaluating social and economic impact of these innovations and for building more inclusive policies. That way, the PLUS project contributes to understanding the digitisation of labour and tackling the related challenges. PLUS studies four applications (Airbnb, Deliveroo, Helpling and Uber) in seven European cities (Barcelona, Berlin, Bologna, Lisbon, London, Paris and Tallinn). It takes a multi-disciplinary approach which includes a legal, socioeconomic, political and historical perspective to propose alternative scenarios for promoting social protection, economic development and the welfare of platform labour.
Life course perspectives in studying youth transitions to adulthood: bridging qualitative and quantitative approaches (YouthLife) (2020-2023)
Project ‘Life course perspectives in studying youth transitions to adulthood: bridging qualitative and quantitative approaches’ (YouthLife) aims to take research on the lifecourse of youth to a new level, bringing together top researchers who represent different methodological approaches from the leading European research centres. In cooperation with the University of Bamberg in Germany, the University of Southampton in England and the Netherlands Interdisciplinary Demographic Institute (NIDI), the YouthLife project promotes lifecourse studies at Tallinn University by increasing and diversifying the methodological competence of research fellows and early-stage researchers and thereby supporting the sustainable development of the Centre of Excellence in Interdisciplinary Lifecourse Studies. YouthLife will create an international cooperation network which facilitates the exchange of knowledge and experience among research groups with different methodological specialisation and contributes to overcoming the qualitative and quantitative gap in life-course studies. As a result of the cooperation, a conceptual and methodological basis will be established for preparing and conducting ta sustainability study of Estonian youth (ELSY).
The project will actively engage young researchers (doctoral students, post-doctoral fellows and early-stage researchers) in order to improve their research and cooperation capability and strengthen the scientific level and innovation capability of youth and lifecourse studies. The project will lay the foundation for the IISS’s school of methodology which organises intensive courses to introduce the qualitative and quantitative methods of data gathering and analysis in sustainability studies as well as theoretical and practical seminars for combining the methods of both approaches in lifecourse studies. The project will also include several RMA workshops (application for research funding, management and implementation of research projects), networking seminars, study and research visits and the promotion of long-distance cooperation among the partners. YouthLife will also contribute to improving the capabilities of the research coordination and administration support structure at Tallinn University.
The project is funded within the framework of the Twinning measure under the ‘Spreading Excellence and Widening Participation’ area of the European Commission’s Horizon 2020 programme, the aim of which is strengthening certain areas of the research institutions of the beneficiary countries, improving their integration with the leading consortiums in Europe and ensuring their more successful participation in international funding programmes.
Institutional research funding
Cumulative processes in the development of the education path and the professional career in order to explain inequality in the context of neo-liberalisation (2015–2020)
The aim of the project is to analyse the process of advantages (disadvantages) accumulating in the development of the education path and the professional career in the conditions of neo-liberalisation and to develop a model which would address changes in inequality between social groups depending on the institutional context. The project associates the processes of accumulation of micro-level advantages (disadvantages) with macro-level neo-liberalisation processes and the economic crisis. We treat the different types of neo-liberalisation as institutional contexts which influence possibilities and limitations in the accumulation of advantages in the conditions of the economic crisis and allow for different choices of individual behaviour strategies. In addition to the planned gathering of new qualitative longitudinal data, a large number of quantitative studies on the EU28 countries are used, as well as data from registers and qualitative and quantitative studies conducted in Estonia, which allows us to compare cohorts and countries.
Tackling informal employment in Asia: building post-COVID-19 solutions to precariousness through case-study based evidence on Bhutan, Laos, Maldives, Myanmar, Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam (LABOUR) (2021-2025)
According to the latest WESO report (ILO, 2020), there are over 1.4bn workers in vulnerable jobs worldwide, with numbers expected to rise in 2020 due to COVID-19. Several efforts have been made, both at domestic and international levels, to address these concerns. This includes efforts through the Sustainable Development Goals process, which includes a specific statistical indicator to measure informal employment (8.3.1), the formulation of SDG8 (decent work) and SDG9 (sustainable industrialization). Across countries and world regions, the degree to which SDGs have been used to address youth issues and inform national policies varies significantly. Indeed, in spite of the fact that the great majority of states have formally committed to addressing the SDGs, including those related to insecure employment, there is little evidence to indicate that developing regions currently have the capacity to systematically study the problems of informal employment and vulnerability in ways that facilitate the development and implementation of concrete viable solutions. This is due, in our view, to two major challenges. First, although a number of approaches that have been used inside the EU, there has been little, if any, attempt to adapt the existing framework elsewhere. Second, no systematic review of anti-precariousness policy has been attempted beyond the EU region. LABOUR is a research and training programme designed to address the above-mentioned shortfalls of research and development approaches with particular attention to a region where this is particularly worrying concern. Informal employment in Asia is estimated to account for 68.2% of the active population. By gathering a team of 14 participants that includes academic and non-academic partners working on labour insecurity, we aim not only at producing specialists on the topic and on the region but also at proposing concrete mitigation measures that can be taken into account by decision-makers and development organisations.
Social exclusion of young people (2020-2021)
The project is aimed at expanding the possibilities of using survey and register data for mapping and monitoring young people who are at risk of exclusion. Young people who are outside the employment and education system as well as those who have started their career, but suffer from in-work poverty are the target group. The intention is to map and understand processes taking place in institutions and in cooperation between institutions, in order to determine the set of measures and actions which are necessary for the development of the processes and systems for organising services and which can be taken into account in furnishing the measures with activity and performance criteria (with a focus on the Youth Guarantee support system). The project will determine what the implementation of activities aimed at preventing and reducing the risk of social exclusion of young people is like on the local government level and map the coping strategies of young people in social exclusion or at risk of social exclusion. The aim is to promote cooperation with the Master’s studies of youth workers at Tallinn University and develop a model for improving the measures for supporting young people at risk of exclusion with a focus on improving the Youth Guarantee support system (YGSS).
Transdisciplinary solutions to cross sectoral disadvantage in youth (YOUNG-IN) (2018-2022)
The main aim of YOUNG-IN is to understand the interrelationship of disadvantages that young people face and to find policies that can mitigate these cumulating disadvantages. The main scientific challenge of the project is to broaden the knowledge of policy-makers of the causes of the interrelated disadvantages in the life domains of young people and to improve the transdisciplinary and cross-border applicability of such knowledge. The project strives to place the previously relatively separate youth policy into the mainstream approaches of modern social and employment policy (e.g. social investment policies). As a result of that, holistic interventions can be developed to mitigate the risks of disadvantage for young people without bringing about an increase in social inequality.
COST (European Cooperation in Science and Technology) is the oldest European association of research and technology, aimed at facilitating interdisciplinary cooperation and bring research and policy communities closer together. Until now, Estonian researchers have participated in the COST networks as partners – the project prepared by the Centre of Excellence of the SOGOLAS is the first one to be managed from Estonia. Professor Anu Toots is the head of the YOUNG-IN project, professor Marge Unt and associate professor Triin Lauri are members of the Estonian steering committee.
Analysing social constructions of ageing masculinities and their cultural representations in contemporary European literatures and cinemas (MASCAGE) (2019-2021)
The project focuses on the depiction of ageing masculinities and elderly men in the literatures and cinemas of various European cultures, taking a closer look at the links of cultural representations of men and men’s own experience and beliefs with important social topics: health, close relationships, social inclusion or exclusion, the ‘old man’ stereotypes. Although studying masculinities is not new, it is novel to just focus on the cultural representations of older men in all of its variety as well as in connection with social problems – until now, studies have focused on the representations of older women or ‘ungendered’ portraits of ageing. The project plans to share the obtained knowledge with practitioners and policy-makers in the area of healthcare.
The project is funded via the gender studies ERA-NET network GENDER-NET Plus which is financed by the European Commission and the countries participating in the network.
Negotiating return to work in the age of demographic change through industrial relations (REWIR) (2018–2022)
The REWIR project aims to study how social partners can contribute to the development and implementation of return-to-work policies and analyse the experience of other stakeholders and individual employees in returning to work. The project is set on the backdrop of the ageing society and the lengthening employment path, in which the return of employees to the labour market after long-term or chronic illness is seen as a priority.
These topics are studied at the European Union, national and company level. Interviews with EU level social partners will be conducted and a pan-European survey will be carried out among the social partners of the Member States in order to gain a better understanding of their contribution to the development and implementation of return-to-work policies. The project performs an in-depth analysis of six countries – Estonia, Ireland, Italy, Netherlands, Romania and Slovakia – which represent different collective employment relations systems and political return-to-work frameworks. Interviews with the representatives of the government and civil society stakeholders will be conducted in these countries. The information obtained from the interviews will be enriched with data from two surveys (one with employees and the other with managers and trade union representatives at company level) and the focus groups of stakeholder representatives. The results of the EU level analysis and the analysis of the six countries will then be put into a comparative analysis which allows determining the best practices and shape policy recommendations.
The project is funded by the European Commission.
Reducing the gender wage gap (REGE) (2019-2021)
The gender wage gap is one of the most central indicators reflecting the inequality in the labour market and in the society. It relates to the inequality of earnings of the participants in the labour market and next to short-term consequences translates to long-term consequences by reproducing the risk of poverty (children’s poverty, lower pensions for women). Estonia has the highest wage gap in Europe, which is marginally explained by the different labour market positions of men and women. The gender wage gap is related to the interlinked processes at the micro (individual), meso (workplace) and macro (institutions, norms) level, which form the bases on the project concept. Innovative aspects of the project include the analysis of the wage dynamics over the lifecourse, stressing the role of norms and expectations on the development of the wage gap, as well as highly innovative machine learning and data mining methods used in data analysis. The outcomes of the project are digital tools for the state, employers and employees to increase the awareness of the wage gap and test different solutions, including prototypes of digital solutions.
The study is funded by the European Regional Development Fund, commissioned by the Estonian Research Council and the Ministry of Social Affairs in the framework of contract No. 7.2-2/19/2 under Action 1, ‘Support for Strategic R&D Activities’, of programme ‘Strengthening of Sectoral R&D (RITA)’.