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European Societies ; 25(1):132-153, 2023.
Article in English | ProQuest Central | ID: covidwho-2258916


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.