Federal ministries

Historically the state and civil society can be described as opposites. Especially during the predemocratic absolutism of the 18th century or the antidemocratic dictatorships of the 20th century civil societal movements held for oppositional forces against state authorities.
Today one can still differentiate between a state sphere and a civil societal sphere, with different sectors and logics of action assigned to each of them.
In democracies, too, civil society exercises a control function over state actors, while at the same time sometimes being dependent on a framework given by the state. In Germany, for example, it is characteristic for the Third Sector to be dependent on state funding.
However, the interconnectedness of state and civil society can also be observed elsewhere: When the welfare state reaches its limits, there are tendencies to externalize federal tasks of welfare provision towards civil societal organizations. This leads to the danger of the welfare state’s withdrawal from duties inherent in its field of responsibility, and the instrumentalisation of civil society. In this context we want to evoke the concept of the “enabling state”, which means that the state creates the necessary framework for civic engagement without interfering in its processes.
On the federal level there are several possibilities on how to promote civil society and civic engagement: Through legislation the necessary framework for associations and volunteers can be created. With the help of federal programmes non-profit projects can be promoted and new methods of civic participation can be tested. What is also important for the promotion of civic engagement is the provision of information and new scientific evidence.
Nevertheless, the possibilities on the federal level to promote civic engagement are restricted. The German Fundamental Law regulates that infrastructural measures are the duty of state ministries and municipalities.

Examples of our services and activities

  • Academic support and evaluation of the programme „Freiwilligendienste aller Generationen“ (Voluntary Services for All Generations) on behalf of the Federal ministry of family affairs, senior citizens, women and youth (BMFSFJ) (2009-2011).
  • Academic support and evaluation of the programme „Aktiv im Alter“ (Active in Age) on behalf of the BMFSFJ (2008-2010).
  • Academic support and evaluation of the programme „Generationsübergreifende Freiwilligendienste“ (Intergenerational Voluntary Services) on behalf of the BMFSFJ (2005-2008).

Publications

  • Igl, Gerhard (2009): Fördermöglichkeiten des Bundes bei lokalen und regionalen Infrastrukturvorhaben auf dem Gebiet des bürgerschaftlichen Engagements. Rechtsgutachten für das BMFSFJ, Kiel.
  • Pollack, Detlef (2004): Zivilgesellschaft und Staat in der Demokratie. In: Klein, Ansgar (Hg.): Zivilgesellschaft und Sozialkapital. Wiesbaden. VS Verlag. P. 23-40.
  • Kocka, Jürgen (2003): Zivilgesellschaft in historischer Perspektive. In: Forschungsjournal NSB, 16 Heft 2, 2003. Stuttgart. Lucius & Lucius. P. 29-37.
  • Enquete Kommission „Zukunft des Bürgerschaftlichen Engagements“ (2002): Bürgerschaftliches Engagement und Zivilgesellschaft. Deutscher Bundestag (Hg.). Opladen. Leske & Budrich.
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