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Centre for Citizenship in Potsdam

Citizenship Centre Potsdam

Many of the problems of modern society are concerned with the foundations of social membership, the distribution of resources for individuals to live satisfactory lives, and the maintenance of social solidarity in the face of austerity, income inequality, unsatisfactory work experiences, and growing diversity and competition for jobs and housing. This list of issues are all related to citizenship which we define, not so much in technical terms as a legal status, but in terms of the connections that tie individuals to civil society.

In the face of market-driven principles, citizenship has been eroded in recent years. With the erosion of citizenship and the marginalisation of communities by globalisation, there has been a growth of right-wing extremism, fundamentalism and populism across Europe and also in the United States. There has also been a growth in ‘public religions’, and paradoxically with secularisation religious concerns are having a major impact on debates and legislation relating to same sex marriage, abortion, contraception and other issues such as education. In the past these public issues were mainly of concern to the leadership of the Christian churches but with globalisation there are many other religious minorities, most notably Muslim minorities. Much of the recent academic debate has been about how best to integrate new religious minorities into secular societies. These issues have been addressed by John Rawls and Charles Taylor but the key phrase – ‘post-secular society’- was introduced by Jürgen Habermas.

The new Centre will research citizenship taking into consideration the complex relationships between modernity, secularisation and religion with special reference to social and religious pluralism. The research framework will consist of four strands or themes:

Migration and the Rise of Populism

How does migration affect western societies in terms of cultural pluralisation and the rise of populist movements?

Successful Cities

How do cities develop successful strategies in creating pathways to inclusion for minorities?

Legal pluralism

How does legal pluralism relate to national sovereignty? Can legal pluralism contribute to social solidarity or is it divisive?

Familial Pluralism and Religion

How do different religious discourses process the growth of diversity in household and family structures?


The Centre for Citizenship Potsdam is funded by the Max Planck Research Award 2015.