Active Citizenship Today is a dissemination project that has resulted in a booklet that presents the core scientific findings of the Active Citizenship in Culturally and Religiously Diverse Societies (ACT) project.
In debates on citizenship in Europe, the need for active participation among citizens has increasingly been stressed. But do normative ideas of what active citizenship is reflect people's lived experiences in present-day Europe? In Europe's culturally and religiously diverse societies, citizens have different frameworks for how they act in and interact with their close and distant surroundings. This increasing diversity leads to diversified citizen participation that the ACT project empirically studied in order both to advance theorizing on citizenship and to evaluate and improve the relevance of the current participation agenda for the lived experiences of residents in Europe today.
The ACT project addressed three 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 ACT project studied active citizenship both as a disciplining discourse and as empowering action. Our study shows that the discourse on civic virtue and participation is strong in Norway and Denmark and research participants want to live up to these norms but challenge two aspects: first, the focus on civic engagement as only taking place in formal, public spaces; and second, the idea of active citizenship as contributing to a common good that is apolitical, non-partisan and areligious. Another central finding is that socio-economic differences between neighborhoods play a greater role in explaining civic engagement than national differences.
The Active Citizenship Today booklet presents key findings from the ACT project. The publication has the following structure:
1. Active Citizenship Today
2. Project Summary
3. Research Insights
? Citizenship as Participation and Membership: The Contested Boundaries of Political Communities (Per Mouritsen, Aarhus University)
? What Does It Mean to Be an Active Citizen? (Noor Jdid, PRIO)
? Family and Religion: Locations, Motivations and Contestations of Citizenship (Jonas Jakobsen, UiT ? The Arctic University of Norway)
? Sites of Participation and Boundaries of Belonging (Marta Bivand Erdal, PRIO)
? Active Citizenship, Pluralism and Compromise (Tore Vincents Olsen, Aarhus University)
? Citizenship, Belonging and Social Cohesion (Kjersti Fjørtoft, UiT ? The Arctic University of Norway)
? Life Events as Inspiration for Civic Participation (Cindy Horst, PRIO)
4. Co-Creating Knowledge
6. Research Team
Once the booklet is launched in the autumn of 2019, the expected outcome and impact will be:
Increased knowledge and awareness of scientific evidence about active citizenship among relevant stakeholders in Norway and XXX (Europe?)
It will impact on how relevant stakeholders address and communicate issues related to active citizenship in culturally and religiously diverse societies.
The ACT project has reviewed conceptions of active citizenship in philosophy, political science, anthropology, geography and feminist studies; collected empirical data on everyday experiences of active citizenship; and integrated theoretical models with empirical findings. The results were disseminated through up to 24 academic, peer-reviewed journal articles and book chapters (11 published, 1 accepted, 8 under review, 4 to be submitted), 2 monographs (1 published and PhD to be delivered summer 2019) and 1 edited volume. Beyond the peer-reviewed academic presentations, the deliverables consist of policy briefs (4), popular science publications (3), op-eds and media appearances (8), ACT newsletters (6), academic public lectures/invited talks (18), popular public lectures/invited talks (18), conference/workshop presentations (36), ACT conference sessions and workshops (5) and ACT project advisory board meetings (3).
With the closure of the project, one important missing piece is a booklet in which all scientific results are summarized in a concise way that is appropriate for widespread popular dissemination. The project has resulted in key insights on citizenship as participation and membership; the influence of religion on civic engagement; religion in the public sphere; the question of compromise in pluralist societies; how active citizenship relates to social cohesion; in what way participation in multiple spaces influences community creation; and how the private sphere can be redefined as a space of active citizenship. The proposed booklet would present these themes through short research insights by all team members, drawing on academic and policy publications. Furthermore, the booklet would present an overview of all publications and discuss knowledge co-creation methods and societal relevance. The timing of this project for spring 2019 allows us to link its dissemination to the completion of the PhD work and the potential media attention that will follow.