Active citizenship: promoting and advancing innovative democratic practices in the Western Balkans

Institute for Philosophy and Social Theory will coordinate Jean Monnet network Active citizenship: promoting and advancing innovative democratic practices in the Western Balkans, as initiator at University of Belgrade. The network includes University of Graz (CSEES) and political science departments at University of Turin, University of Sarajevo and Ss. Cyril and Methodius University in Skopje as well as Belgrade Fund for Political Excellence.

The project builds a consortium of HE institutions, CSO and research institutions aiming to explore the potentials of innovative democratic practices for advancing democratization in the WB societies by bridging a divide between scholarship on grassroots democratic initiatives in the WB and on institutionalized democratic innovations, practiced in EU countries.

We aim to enable institutionally supported knowledge exchange regarding the interplay between democratic innovations and bottom-up citizens’ mobilizations, often seen as disparate, even opposing phenomena. Also, we aim to promote innovative democratic practices in the WB, as their institutionalization may be the key element in building citizens’ resilience to growing authoritarian and populist tendencies.

The project plans a number of multinational activities. Firstly, 3 workshops will be organised, with a goal to build systematic review of research on active citizenship and appropriate methodological approaches. Building on knowledge acquired there, two democratic innovations, taking into consideration peculiarities of WB societies, will be implemented at local level. This will lead to qualitative and quantitative data to be used in further research which will be presented on the summer school at the end of the second year. The summer school will bring together scholars, experts, and CSO actors, recruited from our network and through open call, with the aim to further advance theoretical/empirical knowledge.

Selected contributions will be included in the edited volume on active citizenship. This network will also enable and encourage short-term visits of younger researchers to partners. During the final year, the network will deliver a Handbook on democratic innovations, and design an MA module in Innovative democratic practices. The project will conclude with a conference, where best papers will be selected for the special issue on the interplay between democratic innovations and grassroots initiatives.

Project coordinator is Irena Fiket.

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