Social cohesion

Social cohesion is once again firmly on the political agenda – and for good reason. A solid community is the foundation of any society. It is what holds it together, and makes it robust, dignified and future-proof.

Menschenmenge; © 5xinc/Thinkstock


What exactly is it that creates cohesion in one’s own country and within Europe? Is this cohesion threatened by globalisation, digitisation and migration? Or do socio-economic inequalities lead to tension, frictions or even radicalisation? And how can liberal democracies oppose such developments and regain trust?

All these questions show how crucial it is to conduct scientific research into the conditions, changes and effects of social cohesion. For example, evidence-based social science can identify social building blocks that are prerequisites for togetherness and cohesion in society. It also provides answers as to whether, how and why social cohesion is actually changing. Social science instruments can be used to empirically test and develop precise theories. Our knowledge about and insights into our society and our coexistence are thus expanded, made more precise and improved.

In order to promote research into social cohesion, the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) has been supporting the establishment of a decentralised and multidisciplinary “Forschungsinstitut Gesellschaftlicher Zusammenhalt (FGZ)” (Research Institute for Social Cohesion) since 2018. Researchers from eleven universities and non-university research institutions are examining current developments relevant to the cohesion of society, and taking a deep look into their historical roots as well. More about this on the homepage of the "Research Institute for Social Cohesion”.

The BMBF funding guideline "Strengthening cohesion in times of crisis and upheaval" was published in May 2016. The funding measure focused on crisis phenomena that endanger social coexistence and social cohesion. This primarily included the so-called "migration crisis". In addition, topics such as "populism" and "solidarity" were also dealt with. The effects of these crises and upheavals and social challenges were examined in 23 projects during the funding period from autumn 2017 to spring 2021. Most of these were collaborative projects with more than two project partners, as a result of which 50 individual projects were funded. The funding volume was approximately 19 million euros. With its practice-oriented focus, the funding measure took on a pioneering role for subsequent measures in the focus area of "social cohesion". In cooperation with Professor Berthold Vogel, SOFI Göttingen, a questionnaire campaign was conceptualised shortly before the end of the projects. The questionnaire is available here and it summarises the central framework conditions of problem- and practice-oriented research for academics, research funding and the professional public.

Relevant funding guidelines will be published successively. As you will see from the following pages, the focus is on these funding measures and topics:

Research Institute for Social Cohesion
Participation and the common good
Cohesion in Europe
Migration and integration
Islamic theology