Social Cohesion and Civil Society


The project aims to develop a new, conflict- and interaction-based understanding of social cohesion underpinned by empirical research.  The central research question is how and under what conditions civil society actors engage in interaction dynamics that foster or break social cohesion. The research hypotesis is that civil society actors are critical agents of change in modern societies. However, their strength, structure, and strategies determine how they influence social cohesion within groups and society at large.

The interdisciplinary project innovates by tracing diverse interaction dynamics activated by civil society, from dyadic interactions in families via civil society networks to public discourses. To this effect, the team comprises experts from sociology, psychology, political science, communication studies, linguistics, computer science, and philosophy. Methodologically, the project conducts quantitative and qualitative comparative research (from organizational and discourse analysis to experimental designs) while 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 project is funded by the Berlin University Alliance as part of the Grand Challenge Initiative "Social Cohesion", 

For more information on our research activities please visit the project website.