The role of civil society in crises (CivKris) is a research project at the Center for Civil Society Research at Marie Cederschiöld University. This project is funded by the Swedish Civil Contingencies Agency (MSB)
About the Project:
The fact that organizations and individuals in Swedish civil society constitute real and potential resources in society's work with major accidents and crises is well established. In their latest national survey, researchers at the Center for Civil Society Research show, for example, that eleven percent of the adult population has made efforts during special events, such as the reception of refugees in the fall of 2015 and the forest fires in 2014 and 2018. However, it is a challenge that we, to a large extent, still lack knowledge and understanding of what specific roles and what systemic importance civil society actors have and can have in crises in Sweden.
In addition, in these contexts civil society is often regarded as a unified actor, while this project instead assume that it consists of a diversity of actors, such as small sports clubs, cultural and interest associations as well as national voluntary defense organizations and socially oriented organizations with large central offices. More general, systematic, and nuanced knowledge is therefore needed about opportunities and limitations, especially in terms of preparedness and crisis management by civil society’s various actors.
The aim of the present project is to develop the knowledge and understanding of civil society’s various actors in terms of preparedness for and handling of crises, its driving forces, capacity and potential. Four main empirical questions guide the research:
What driving forces, what preparedness and what capacity to handle crises, exist among actors in civil society?
What opportunities and obstacles are there for such actors to collaborate with the public when it comes to issues related to preparedness and crisis?
Are there actors in civil society who are particularly excluded from such cooperation and how can such exclusion be understood?
What significance do people’s trust, values and participation in civil society have for their willingness to assist in social crises and ultimately in war?
The project’s goal is to contribute to an increased understanding of the actual and possible role of civil society —including its potential and limitations—before, during and after a national crisis. This increased understanding is useful for actors in Sweden with responsibility for social protection and preparedness—at policy level or in operations—as well as for the international scientific community. The understanding of the phenomenon gained through the project is continuously spread through both scientific and practical publications as well as through dialogues with and presentations for both researchers and practitioners. The obtained understanding will also be translated into efforts supporting education, training, evaluation, practice and development activities.