The challenges with which democracy is confronted today occur within a tension between legitimacy and performance as conflicting requirements. The tension between legitimacy and performance manifests itself on three key domains, that are researched at the Center for the Study of Democracy: on a macro-level, our research focuses on the civil-societal fundament of democracy, examining values, attitudes and behaviors that are preconditions for democratic institutions to survive. On a meso-level, our research examines formal and informal institutional settings and their impacts on the performance of party governments, including questions of institutional reform and change. Finally, on a micro-level our research is concerned with how the interaction of civil society and institutions translates into specific policies, focusing on issues of participation, representation and deliberation on both the national and European levels.

In the CSD research program, these three research fields are subsumed under research units:

  • Value Change and Human Empowerment

Central research questions:

  1. What gives rise to ‘emancipative cultures’ that value freedom of choice and equality of opportunities?
  2. How do emancipative cultures transform civil society into an instrument of human empowerment?
  3. How does this human empowerment process affect the livability and florescence of democracy?
  • Party Government and Institutional Change

Central research questions:

  1. What is the impact of formal and informal institutional settings on the performance of party governments?
  2. What are the social and political preconditions for institutional reforms?
  3. What is the role and function of political leaders in representative democracies?
  • Participation and Public Policy

Central research questions:

  1. What old and new forms of democratic representation, participation and deliberation exist both within and beyond the nation state?
  2. How do actors formulate and pursue political strategies in democratic societies?
  3. How can we analyze, explain and evaluate the possibilities and limitations of participatory and deliberative approaches to democratic problem-solving and conflict resolution in differentiated policy fields

These thematic fields are most pertinent not only in terms of their socio-political relevance and scientific image, but they can also draw on already existing, widely recognized competencies at the CSD.

CSD’s main and significant expertise is manifested not only in the number of high-level international publications by CSD members, but also in the primary data collections that are continuously carried out at the Center (especially the World Value Survey and the database of Central and Eastern European political systems and governments). CSD Lueneburg continuously expands this expertise is a well-respected research partner in the international community of democracy researchers. The Center is connected through both long-standing individual and inter-institutional partnerships as well as through institutional membership in national and international networks of democracy research institutions.

The sustainability and flourishing of our research is further achieved through PhD and post-Doc fellowships to young researchers as well as by way of organizing regular PhD summer schools and public lectures. The international atmosphere and active networking activities of the Center further provide an optimal environment for young researchers in the field.