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Department of Spatial Planning

Zivilgesellschaftliche Verantwortungsübernahme für gesellschaftlichen Zusammenhalt „vor Ort“

Civil society taking responsibility for local social cohesion.

The basic assumption of the research project is that social cohesion is not "just there", but is produced in concrete practices in a territorially defined community.

A significant variable influencing cohesion "on-site" is the respective social and spatial framework conditions (access to labour markets, to educational opportunities or to public goods, etc.), which can cause advantages or burdens through infrastructures, socio-demographic and economic development trends. These are thus factors that are mutually dependent and at the same time subject to profound changes and unequally distributed, which can be observed both at the national level (e.g. between rural and urban regions) and - to a much greater extent - at the European level (e.g. between regions in Western Europe and South-Eastern Europe).

Another variable influencing local cohesion is the assumption of responsibility by civil society, which in turn is linked to socio-spatial inequalities. Different forms of ownership can mitigate disparities and promote social cohesion. However, the engagement of civil society actors can also catalyse inequalities and affect cohesion "on-site". This is the case when, for example, conflicting goals, logics of action and interpretations of space result in conflicts, exclusion and marginalisation. Finally, the perception of a socio-spatially disadvantaged situation can also lead to passivity and resistance to change.

Duration: 06/2020 - 05/2024


Against this background, the aim of the project is to analyse the links between (1) social and spatial conditions, (2) civil society's assumption of responsibility and (3) social cohesion "on-site" on a national and international comparative basis. In-depth knowledge from studies in socio-spatially different regions should provide a basis for deriving possible courses of action for actors from politics and / or spatial planning. This should enable them to positively influence social cohesion by redesigning or changing the lines of connection.


Project Partners & Funding

In cooperation with:

 Sylvia Herrmann | Institute of Environmental Planning, Leipniz University of Hanover

The research project is part of the newly founded research institute Gesellschaftlicher Zusammenhalt (FGZ). More information can be found on the website of the Forschungsinstituts Gesellschaftlicher Zusammenhalt or on the page of this research project.



Contact Partners

TU Dortmund University
Department of Spatial Planning
Urban and Regional Planning
Univ.-Prof. Dr.-Ing. Frank Othengrafen