Workshop: ‘Peerness’ as solidarity in empowering refugees and migrants into employment: social progress or ‘organized irresponsibility’ (a la Ulrich Beck)?

Conveners: Anja Heikkinen (, Lorenz Lassnigg (

A vast number of programmes and projects in Europe are targeted to enhancement of the employment and employability of refugee and migrant background people, especially women.  They predominantly search for best practices, which could be transferred to other contexts, and potentially adopted into the European employment, education and social policies. At the same time ‘peerness’, voluntarism and experiential expertise have gained increasing momentum in education and training, especially in work-related and vocational education. Also the initiatives promoting employment of refugee and migrant background people increasingly focus on learning, guidance and mentoring by their peers, with whom they can (experientially) identify.

What is the ethical and political contribution of the current project-, voluntary- and peer-centered approach in addressing complex humanitarian, economic and environmental challenges, which operate beyond local and national borders? Does the calculating approach of best (efficient) practices justify withdrawal and societal irresponsibility of mainstream educational institutions and working life towards all inhabitants in and beyond the nation-state? Consequently, do the dominant programme- and project-based policies, which promote ‘peerness’ in empowering employment and employability of refugee and migrant-background people in fact indicate new kinds of political, social and educational nationalism Europe? How do these relate to the (rhetorically?) traditional European values of solidarity and social progress in their local, national and transnational contexts?

The workshop invites academic, artistic and experiential presentations, which discuss policies and practices of inclusion and exclusion in vocational education, which increasingly take place as promoting peer guidance and voluntarism. The preferable language of inputs is English, but we try to cope with suggestions in other languages, such as Finnish, German, Arabic, Farsi, Kurdish, thus please indicate your preferences in the proposal.