PRIO Network

Active Citizenship in Culturally and Religiously Diverse Societies (ACT)
Led by Cindy Horst
Jun 2014 - Sep 2017

In debates on citizenship in Europe, the need for active participation among citizens is increasingly stressed. But do normative ideas of what active citizenship is reflect people's lived experiences in present-day Europe? While the low electoral participation of young people is often highlighted as an indication of reduced civic participation, various studies show increased social media use leads to new societal engagement. And while politicians often lament the lack of civil-political engagement among immigrants, many new citizens volunteer, take up political causes, or set up associations in both their countries of residence and origin. In Europe's culturally and religiously diverse societies, citizens have different frameworks for how they act and interact with their close and distant surroundings. We argue that this increasing diversity leads to diversified citizen participation that must be studied if the current participation agenda is to remain relevant.

The ACT project poses 3 overarching research questions: 1) What are the implications of diverse virtues and values on the motivations of citizens to give voice to societal concerns and take an active role in public affairs? 2) How do shifting understandings of 'society' and 'community' and shifting experiences of belonging impact the locations in which active citizenship practices take place? 3) Which tensions and contestations arise in debates on what it means to participate as an active citizen in society? The project collects empirical data on local, national and transnational active citizenship in neighbourhoods in Oslo and Copenhagen. ACT will integrate this empirical data with theoretical models of (active) citizenship in philosophy, political science, anthropology, geography and feminist studies. ACT is a collaboration between the Peace Research Institute Oslo (PRIO), the Department of Philosophy at the University of Tromsø and the Department of Political Science and Government at Aarhus University.