Civil Society

Our work is based on four different theoretical 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 section.

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

• From an empirical perspective we ask: How can civil society be observed and described?

• From a theoretical perspective we ask: How can we explain and classify developments in civil society?

• From an experimental strategic perspective we ask: How can we assess and influence developments in civil society?

On an international level the debate about civil society is led in different "dialects" corresponding to the 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 in other parts of the world in the debate in order to counteract this danger and to rectify 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 (PDF (German), 4 pages)


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Zentrum für zivilgesellschaftliche Entwicklung

Bugginger Str. 38
D-79114 Freiburg
Tel: +49 (0)761 47812-140


zze Berlin

Karl-Marx-Allee 77-79
D-10243 Berlin
Tel: +49 (0)30 296802-47


Träger: FIVE e.V.


FIVE - Spitzenforschung im  sozialen Bereich