Social cohesion and civil society. Interaction dynamics in times of disruption


The so-called Exploration Project, funded by the BUA’s Grand Challenge Initiative Social Cohesion, advances our understanding of the crucial link between cohesion and civil so-ciety. As the funding aims at developing larger, long-term research cooperation, the three coordinators are joined by a team of ten additional PIs and Co-PIs (incl. Edgar Grande). The central research question is how and under what conditions civil society actors engage in interaction dynamics that foster or break social cohesion. The assumption is that civil society actors are critical agents of change in modern societies. However, their strength, structure, and strategies affect how they influence social cohesion within groups and society at large. The interdisciplinary project innovates by tracing such diverse interac-tion dynamics, activated by civil society, from dyadic interactions in families via civil society networks to public discourses. To do so, the team includes experts from sociology, psychology, political science, communication studies, linguistics, computer sciences, and philosophy. Methodologically, the project will conduct quantitative and qualitative com-parative research (from organizational and discourse analysis to experimental designs), strongly emphasizing collaboration with civil society partners. The project’s main aims are to (a) develop an innovative relational understanding of social cohesion, which puts interactions and conflicts center stage; (b) implement an ambitious empirical research program on the ambivalent consequences of civil society for social cohesion; (3) deliver immediate insights on the role of civil society for social cohesion during the ongoing Corona crisis; and (4) lay the foundation for long-term collaboration and infrastructure building in inter- and transdisciplinary research, teaching, and knowledge exchange across Berlin’s social sciences, life sciences, humanities, and computer science. The pro-ject had its kick-off meeting end of October and is currently in the process of recruiting personnel.

Oktober 2020 - September 2023
Berlin University Alliance (BUA)
Prof. Dr. Jule Specht (HU Berlin) und Prof. Dr. Christian von Scheve (FU Berlin)