Our work is based on four different dimensions of civil society that are both the result as well as the object of our debate. We continue to develop these concepts and will document new findings in our understanding of civil societal developments on this website.

We approach each of these concepts of civil society from three different perspectives:

  • On the empirical level we ask: How can civil society be observed and described?
  • On the theoretical level we ask: How can we explain and classify developments in civil society?
  • On the experimental-strategic level we ask: How can we evaluate and influence developments in civil society?

On an international level the debate about civil society is led in several different "dialects", corresponding to different historical traditions and social realities. In order to balance one-sidedness and blind spots, a cross-border discourse is necessary, especially as the discourses that we are familiar with might be characterized by a point of view influenced by Western thinking and eurocentrism. It is essential to include civil societal developments from other parts of the world in the debate in order to meet this risk and to adjust and enhance the discourse as well as courses of action.

Below you can find a detailed description of our understanding of civil society:

Unser Verständnis von Zivilgesellschaft (German, 4 pages)

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FIVE - Spitzenforschung im  sozialen Bereich