Dynamics of interaction in contexts of shrinking civic space
Since the turn of the millennium, political developments in numerous countries worldwide have been shaped by a phenomenon that is discussed as shrinking civic space: the increasing use of legal, administrative and extra-legal instruments of state coercion and the related usage of enforcement institutions in order to restrict the scope of action of civil society actors and their international supporters.
The project, which is currently in a pilot and development phase, aims to investigate the interaction between governmental strategies of restriction and domestic and international responses. The comparative analysis of countries in which different types of restrictions predominate will be used to assess to what extent the specific type (form and intensity) of state coercion is decisive for its consequences: Do different strategies of restriction lead to different domestic and international responses? To what extent do response patterns vary in different policy areas? Which combinations of restriction and response types make it possible to maintain (certain) civic space? And: Which (domestic and external) context conditions favor the maintenance of civic space?
The project ties in with research on shrinking civic space conducted within the framework of the project "Justice Conflicts in the Promotion of Democracy" and the International Consortium on Closing Civic Space (iCon). It is also embedded in the work of the research network "External Democratization Policy" (EDP). For important preliminary work, see the article "The contested spaces of civil society in a plural world: Norm contestation in the debate about restrictions on international civil society support" and the special issue with Democratization entitled "The negotiation of democracy promotion". A dissertation project that focuses on elections has already begun. A pilot study is devoted to the analysis of resistance to so-called NGO laws, i.e. legal restrictions on civic space.