What is the Center for Civil Society

Civil society

Our work is based on four different dimensions of civil society, which are both the result and the subject of our debate. We continue to deal with these concepts and will document new developments in our understanding of civil society developments on this page.

We address each of these concepts of civil society from three angles:

  • Empirically we ask: What can we observe and describe?
  • Theoretically, we are interested in: How can we explain and classify civil society developments?
  • From an experimental and strategic perspective, the question arises: How can we evaluate and influence civil society developments?

The discussion about civil society is conducted internationally in different "dialects", corresponding to different historical traditions and social realities. In order to balance out one-sidedness and blind spots, cross-border discourses are necessary. Because the discourses with which we are familiar may be one-sidedly shaped by industrial states or Eurocentric. It is important to include civil society developments in other parts of the world in the debate in order to counter this danger and to correct and further develop discourses such as options for action.

You can find detailed explanations of our understanding of civil society here:


Our understanding of civil society (PDF, 4 pages)