Civil Society and Participation in Europe and Russia

The research area is focused on the topics of civil society, different kinds of public participation and civic engagement in Germany, Russia and Europe, which are very debatable and popular in contemporary Russian society. A better understanding in needed of how relationships between the state and civil society can be organized and what the major base of activities within the non-governmental organizations and their role in the society could be. It is better possible if there are some opportunities for the comparison of Russia and Europe, or just understanding of the experiences made by the older European democracies. The topics within this research area are oriented on the questions of possible interdependencies between political development and civil society, especially including such conceptions as participation, citizenship, solidarities and volunteering and such institutions as NGOs and social movements. One long-term research within this research area is focused on interdependencies between policies and practices of citizenship education and participation. Another new line of research is going to reflect on the role of national and local NGOs and civil societies in the international relations, especially in the case of the EU-Russian and German-Russian relations. The interplay between different levels of NGOs and social movements actions and interactions as well as its connection with the politics and policies of different levels both in Europe, Russia and their relations became an interesting and challenging field of studies within this research area.

This research area is focused on the issues of civil society, and different kinds of public participation and civic engagement in Germany, Russia and Europe. Since the current situation of civil society and especially non-governmental organizations is keenly debated in contemporary Russia, a better understanding of the role which NGOs can play in society, and in international relations, is needed. In the framework of the research area, these questions are addressed through comparison of Russia and Europe, bringing the Russian case into the comparative and international perspective.

In 2016, research activities in this area focused, firstly, on the analysis of the empirical data on the Russian case, previously collected within the project “The role of NGOs in international relations: Russian case in comparative perspective”. Secondly, as part of the project “Current trends of NGOs and civil society development in EU countries and Russia”, an empirical comparative study of civil society organizations was organized in cooperation with the EU-Russia Civil Society Forum. The research on the current challenges for civil societies and their search for “best practices” involved a series of in-depth interviews in five countries: Germany, Spain, Poland, Hungary, and Russia. The results of this study were summarized in the Report on the State of Civil Society in the EU and Russia, which became the first in the series of the Annual reports to be produced starting from 2017.