This research area is focused on civil society, as well as on various kinds of public participation and civic engagement in Germany, Russia, and Europe. Since the current situation of civil society and, especially, non-governmental organisations is keenly debated in contemporary Russia, a better understanding of the role NGOs play in society and in international relations is needed. Within the framework of the research area, these questions are addressed through the comparison of Russia and Europe, bringing the Russian case into a comparative and international perspective.
Research activities in this area are focused on the methodology of civil society studies, comparative research of NGOs development in the European countries, and discussion of these results with representatives of the civil society and the broader public. These are the foci of the anchor project of this area: the annual Report on the State of Civil Society in the EU and Russia, prepared in cooperation with the EU-Russia Civil Society Forum.
Another key project within this research area is the study ‘Antidiscrimination and Diversity within the German Police’ by Verena Molitor, CGES Bielefeld University and Tatiana Zimenkova, Rhine-Waal University of Applied Sciences. The project deals with minorities (especially, sexual minorities), anti-discrimination activism, and diversity in the German police.
A number of individual research projects are continuously conducted within this research area by affiliated researchers of the CGES and other scholars interested in German and European studies supported by the CGES. For instance, the project by Aleksandr Vasiukov, NRU ‘Higher School of Economics’ aims to reveal and analyse the range of opinions among activists of Kashubian and Silesian movements in Poland about the opportunity and the basic principles of realization of the ‘ethnic minority’ status. One more example is the work ‘Social inclusion – Muslims in Russia’ by Tibor Benedek, Antall Jozsef Knowledge Centre which aims to investigate the attitude of Russian Muslims towards political and religious topics.
The methodological and theoretical foundations of civil society research in Europe are in the centre of many regular CGES events, both academic ones, such as the Summer School in Strelna, and public ones, such as the annual Fall Meetings in St. Petersburg discussing current changes in Europe. The latter is organized together with the German-Russian Exchange and European cultural institutes in St. Petersburg. The annual conference on the protection of World Heritage properties co-organized by CGES in cooperation with the World Heritage Watch in Kraków also falls within the area.