Projects / Programmes source: ARIS

Social contract in the 21st century: historical-sociological, philosophical-ethical and educational aspects

January 1, 2015 - December 31, 2019
Research activity

Code Science Field Subfield
6.06.00  Humanities  Culturology   
6.10.00  Humanities  Philosophy   

Code Science Field
S213  Social sciences  Social structures 

Code Science Field
6.04  Humanities  Arts (arts, history of arts, performing arts, music) 
social contract, post-nationalism, citizenship education, human rights, ethics, diversity, solidarity
Evaluation (rules)
source: COBISS
Researchers (12)
no. Code Name and surname Research area Role Period No. of publicationsNo. of publications
1.  24365  PhD Dejan Jontes  Social sciences  Researcher  2015 - 2019  290 
2.  50813  Špela Kocjančič    Technical associate  2017 - 2018 
3.  11797  PhD Avgust Lešnik  Historiography  Researcher  2015  591 
4.  07633  PhD Breda Luthar  Political science  Researcher  2015 - 2019  416 
5.  23937  Polona Matekovič    Technical associate  2017 - 2018 
6.  22331  PhD Maruša Pušnik  Political science  Researcher  2015 - 2019  379 
7.  19351  PhD Mitja Sardoč  Educational studies  Researcher  2015 - 2019  732 
8.  50538  Nejc Slukan  Political science  Junior researcher  2017 - 2019  18 
9.  21580  PhD Rok Svetlič  Philosophy  Researcher  2015 - 2019  293 
10.  21347  PhD Ksenija Vidmar Horvat  Culturology  Head  2015 - 2019  540 
11.  29207  PhD Nenad Vitorović  Culturology  Researcher  2015 - 2016  30 
12.  51714  Martin Vižintin    Technical associate  2019 
Organisations (4)
no. Code Research organisation City Registration number No. of publicationsNo. of publications
1.  0553  Educational Research Institute  Ljubljana  5051614000  6,966 
2.  0581  University of Ljubljana, Faculty of Arts  Ljubljana  1627058  97,062 
3.  1510  Science and Research Centre Koper  Koper  7187416000  13,880 
4.  1822  University of Primorska, Faculty of Humanities  Koper  1810014001  9,775 
This research program investigates explications of the idea of social contract in the 21st century in social-sciences and humanities. Key challenges of today's societies, which are becoming transnational, multicultural and increasingly conditioned by processes of individualization, atomization and transformation of the role of the nation-state and welfare, demand a fresh perspective and re-theoretization of the Enlightenment legacy of the social contract. The reconsideration includes social bonds of solidarity, ethics and citizenship education. The program group approaches these questions from comparative historical, philosophical and educational perspective, and, in this endeavour, brings together researchers in the interdisciplinary field of historical sociology, philosophy and educational studies. In addition, this research task is carried out in dialogue with international scholars who engage in debate in cross-generational, cross-regional and transnational contexts.     Scientific value of the Program:   the development of new research agenda of a post-Enlightenment kind interdisciplinary integration of research questions  into a historical-transformative frame of late modern and postnational global scheme of social cohabitation national specific research of the condition of contemporary social contract and comparative European perspectives re-theoretization and philosophical re-formulation of questions of ethics, “moral understandings” and ethical subject Socio-economic and cultural value of the Program development of a new conceptual model of citizenship and ethical entity of a post-national society development of an educational model for teaching ethics-related issues, citizenship education and a responsible social attitude of national and trans-national co-existence development of the elements for an active, emancipatory and solidarity-based aspects of cognitive, communicative and ethical parameters to both implement and promote the cohesiveness of a post-national society
Significance for science
The program addresses the question of social contract in an interdisciplinary frame and from the perspective of discursive constructionism (Benhabib, Delanty, Yuval-Davis). This means that it considers the social contract as a process, i.e,  as always in a state of temporarity, and inclined to change and adaptation according to outcomes of negotiation among various social agents, actors, individuals and institutions. A key mechanism of negotiation in democratic societies revolves around the idea of democratic deliberaton (Habermas, 2012, Rawls, 2011) whereby differences in social power and argumentative authority (and competence) are taken into account (Young, 2000, Walker, 1998). It is therefore binding in analytical sense that scientific approach to social contract derives from real structural and historical facts of social relations of (in)equality (a variable part) while theoretically- historically, it is situated into postulates of postmodern social contract (a constant part). Below, the program group's approaches to this dialectic relationship between theory and history are explained. The social contract is a historical-civilizational achievement, and a condition of humanity. Rousseau's definition (as indicated in the subtitle, the “Principle of political law”) binds it with the republican idea of the "self-organized solidarity among free citizens" and the idea of equality (Brunkhorts, 2012). The republican harmonia and brotherhood (philia, also Christian fraternity) which find their actualization in late medieval cities, in revolutionary period shift from hierarchical to democratic egalitarian articulation. The key concept which frames the struggle for social emancipation and political equality is solidarity. In Rousseau, as well as in the Constitution from 1973, solidarity assures equal consumption of particular rights of "each subject within the medium of a legalized political equality”, together with "the participation of each individual in public affairs". It is clear from this that solidarity is not a matter of mercy but a principle of justice. The constitutional theory of democracy connects this principle to the notion of dignity; after WW II, both legacies move to the realm of human rights.   Solidarity therefore is not a matter of empathy (which in contemporary debates is often wrongly assumed) nor is a prescriptive-normative enactment of democratic rule. Solidarity by itself does not mean a positive value (after all, ant-democratic, nationalist and violent groups are bound by ties of solidarity amongst its members); it is a constitutive force of social discourse and legal arrangement of human rights, based on processes of democratic deliberation and governed by principles of inclusiveness.   For social theory, a serious issue arises, namely how to connect solidarity to subjective and collective constellations which are being transformed by post-emotional and post-humanist consumer society. "Information societies have let go of emotions, exhausted empathy and are rooted only in political belonging and responsibility”, Stjepan Meštrović claims, and asks: how can we even think of solidarity in cold and rational environment of "non-coherent, artificial and synthetic emotions?" (in Pirc, 2012).   We quote the author to point to the weak sociological understanding of historical contexts in which the idea of solidarity took over the role of a social organizer of the contract. This in fact was the time of cold, calculable and rationalized capitalist order (in the public sphere) and the "romantic solution" (Weber) (in the private sphere). Technologies of managing emotions are at the core of the capitalist reproduction of social order whereby neoliberal vulgarization of emotions at into consumable goods at the beginning of the 21st century is only a proliferation of this historical fact. Historical novelty which needs to be faced by social theory is how the principle of economic liberties, which in neoliberalism has res
Significance for the country
The Research Program 'Social Contract for the 21st century' arises from the program ' Problems of Autonomy and Identity in the Age of Globalization' (2009-2013/14) and the results of the latest research projects of the consortium members (who are either in progress or have recently been completed), especially the interdisciplinary project 'New generation of researchers in the life sciences' and the Jean Monnet project (Integration of Europe: Past and Future Visions views) where all members of this program participate.   The setting up of the research and scholarly objectives as well as the emphasis of the socio-economic objectives of the 'Social Contract' research program is based on a critical analysis of the findings of the cooperation, as outlined below.   The preservation of national identity and the protection of cultural heritage: over the last two decades, contemporary sociological theory has explored intensively the possibilities for transforming collective bond of belonging and solidarity, which will create the conditions for a democratic and just society. In this framework different social alternatives have been developed, such as the theory of transnationalism, ethical cosmopolitan social order and a European perspective of post-national constellation and cosmopolitan empire. In particular in the context of European (EU) perspective, there has been a strong theoretical and socio-historical lack of integration of the post-western perspective, i.e. a perspective that would attract the experience of post-socialist societies and the emancipatory history of Central European nations in the creation of a transnational European society. Researchers coming from Central Europe (in the Slovenian context, see Zagar, 2013) have been warning increasingly over this shortage. This research program responds to this social critique with the method of socio-historical analysis of civil society past trends that have developed around a common core of (fair) solidarity and social equity, together with the models of inclusion and empowerment of disadvantaged social groups. The aim, then, is to create a public deliberative platform, education and awareness through the use of national history and memory that places national history into a broader trans-regional, European and cosmopolitan democratic order and pluralist coexistence. At the same time, it maintains and strengthens the collective self-image and confidence in the direction of understanding of their own roles and responsibilities in the formation of a global human history.   Cultural development: This implies the creation of social consciousness which will be able to critically use national history in order to promote the cultural development of one's country. At the beginning of the 21st century, this development cannot ignore the facts of multiculturalism, fluidity and intersectionality of citizenship, belonging and identity. The research program therefore aims to develop as its fundamental socio-economic aim a solidarity-based model of social contract as the obligatory element of the development of citizenship and human rights that is integrated in multiple spheres of public and economic life. A social contract of the 21st century aims towards a clear recognition of the social reality of diversity, the fact of exploitation and the loosening of the universalistic ideals of fairness and equal opportunities and – in this recognition – the facing of the challenges of designing viable alternatives. The group reconceptualizes these issues in the philosophical and educational heritage of recognition (Taylor, Kymlicka etc.). The basic idea is that by using recognition it would create the foundation for a fair and effective economic treaty, social development, global social prosperity and a sustainable 'utopia' in the field of human rights and dignity (Habermas, 2012) . While the theoretical-philosophical source of this overall purpose is Habermas who considers these issues in the conte
Most important scientific results Annual report 2015, interim report, final report
Most important socioeconomically and culturally relevant results Annual report 2015, interim report, final report
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