(De-)Democratization and the trajectories of civil society

Incubator project of the Centre for Social Sciences (CSS)

In recent years, there is a renewed interest in civil society in both the public and the scholarly debates. This rising interest shows that the discourses on civil society are strongly connected to the state of democracy: in relation with authoritarian states, or tendencies, civil society might appear as a savior, a cure for democracy, or at least a major force of democratization. Civil society organizations and groups, at the same time, can effectively promote populist ideologies and non-democratic values or support authoritarian governments and, as a consequence, might actively contribute to the processes of de-democratization. The opposing claims illustrate very well that a suitable framework and a detailed empirical examination of when and how civil society contributes to democratization or to de-democratization is still waiting to be developed.

Therefore, in this project, we aim to examine, among what conditions and how civil society has a democratizing effect or, on the contrary, furthers de-democratization. The project focuses on building a framework, incorporating the contested views about the role of civil society concerning democratization, and intends to ground a comparative project to be realized in countries where the environment of civil society is changing.

Principal investigator

Márton Gerő,  research Fellow, CSS Institute for Sociology

Project Participants

Andrew Arato, Dorothy Hart Hirschon Professor of Political and Socal Theory, New School for Social Research,                                        

Anna Fejős, junior research fellow, CSS Institute for Sociology    

Margit Feischmidt, Research Chair, CSS, Institute for Minority Studies  

Ákos Huszár Research Fellow, CSS Institute for Sociology           

Szabina Kerényi, Fellow, CSS Institute for Sociology        

Zsolt Körtvélyesi, Research Fellow, CSS Institute for legal stduies          

Andrea Szabó, Senior Research Fellow, CSS Institute for Political Science,        

Dorottya Szikra, Senior Research Fellow, CSS Institute for Sociology 

Róza Vajda, junior research fellow, CSS Institute for Sociology     ,