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'Teilgabe'. The civic, cooperative and social entrepreneurial creation and shaping of public welfare oriented supply.

The project "'Teilgabe'. The civic, cooperative and social entrepreneurial creation and shaping of public welfare oriented supply" is a cooperation of the Seminar for Cooperative Research with the Institute for Ecological Economic Research (IÖW) and the University of Hamburg (Department of Social Economics).

In almost all areas of society, there are civil society initiatives with new demands of participation and claims to shape society, which they test and implement in practical concepts of economic and social provision. In the current socio-political and scientific debate, such forms of economic activity in civil society are symbolized by three concepts in particular: civic engagement, cooperatives and social entrepreneurship. The practice of engaged citizens, which is aimed at shaping the community, includes both goals oriented toward the common good and economic means.  In contrast to the more passive forms of civic involvement, where participation and involvement in the community is at issue, the creative practices and solidarity-based inputs of a committed civil society make a proactive contribution to shaping the community.

How can the emergence and effects of economic activity in civil society be assessed? To what extent are these possible contributions to the creation and maintenance of the common welfare or common goods? By comparing different strategies and forms of action, the project aims to find out to what extent new forms of economic activity in civil society are not limited to help and specific problem solutions, but rather why and how structure-building approaches to shaping the community are being realized.

To this end, the project pursues two central research lines with guiding questions that build on each other:

  1.  With a focus on the actors and their actions, the key question is: Which civil society actors, forms of organization, forms of action, strategies, etc. lead to the provision of common goods? How can they be understood, distinguished and evaluated?
  2. With regard to the dimension of shaping and creation, the guiding question is: What do the actors provide or produce in the sense of an orientation towards the common welfare: common goods, supply systems, infrastructures? What stands in the way of this creative process, what can promote it? How can the structures that have been created be preserved in the long term?

The project combines theoretical reflection with interdisciplinary empirical social research. Transdisciplinary research approaches and cooperation with partners in the field serve to measure the field of civic economic activity, to answer the key questions and to assess the conditions under which the actors act in order to support the development of structures that promote the common good with a focus on cooperation and networking.

Within the project, the Seminar for Cooperative Research analyzes cooperatives for their ability to bundle resources and competences locally and in the region in order to organize actors with their common goals in cooperative self-help. In particular, the self-image and practical actions in relation to networking and structure-building approaches to community shaping by cooperatives are subjected to an in-depth analysis. A special focus in the context of the provision of health-related and social services is on senior citizens' cooperatives.

The practice-oriented objective of the project in cooperation with the expert for cooperatives Burghard Flieger is to use the research results to help structure-building efforts in a specific health care sector to succeed. By organizing a cross-departmental exchange of experience, the project aims to contribute to the dissemination of good practices in as many sectors as possible.