Organized Civil Society and Far-right Interventions


Civil society organizations are often seen as a bulwark against the far right. They are portrayed as democratic and participatory spaces, in which racist or nativist attitudes can be counteracted. However, civil society itself has increasingly become a target of far-right interventions in recent years. This has led to the emergence of new organizations as well as divides within existing civil society organizations. These developments threaten to weaken the integrative power of civil society.

The goal of the project “Organized civic society and far-right interventions” is to strengthen civil society, increase its agency vis-à-vis far-right interventions, and understand which support civil society actors need – in particular in structurally weak social spaces. At the heart of the project is the question of how to strengthen civil society against anti-democratic challengers.  

The project focuses on three areas. First, it examines the conditions and contexts of far-right activities in organized civil society spaces. Second, it analyzes and evaluates the existing reactions of civil society actors. Third, it formulates recommendations for an effective resilience strategy against far-right interventions.

Methodologically, the project employs a mixed-methods design combining a historical approach with qualitative case studies and content analyzes of social media communication strategies. The project selects cases from eight organizational areas to cover the full breadth of German civil society: labor, religion, welfare, firefighting, shooting sports (“Schützenwesen”), environmental protection, culture, and sports.

The project is carried out in partnership with the University of Kassel. It is funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research and within the program “Current and historical dynamics of right-wing extremism and racism”.