Forms of Participation between Competition and Synergy - Mobilization or Demobilization through Direct Democracy?


In Germany, the introduction of new institutional forms of direct democracy – direct election of the mayor, public petitions and citizens’ decisions – has changed the political landscape since the 90’s on the local level. These local innovations aroused interest within the scientific community: Several studies deal with legal, philosophical and historical aspects of direct democratic elements or they evaluate the effects on local decision making processes and policies. However, the effects on mobilization or demobilization for the participation in civil society have hardly been analyzed. This project will explore whether and how the newly introduced elements of direct democracy have in fact influenced the engagement in associations of civil society.

Main content

Research Focus
How does the introduction of direct democratic elements on the local level effect the participation in associations of civil society and vice versa? Is there a difference between communities with long-term and short-term traditions of direct democracy or within communities that make use of public petitions and decisions sometimes and those who never use them?

Research Methods
Interviews (face-to-face and by telephone), analyses of existing studies in the international context.