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Group for Civil Society and Citizenship

Directors: Professor Irene Hardill and Professor Keith Shaw

The Northumbria Group for Civil Society and Citizenship aims to bring together researchers, practitioners and policy makers interested in exploring the shifting dynamics of the relationships between the theory, policy, practices and institutions of civil society and citizenship at a number of spatial scales: the local, regional, national, international and transnational.  

Based in the Department of Social Sciences and Languages at Northumbria University, the Group is interdisciplinary and international in the scope, ambition and focus of its research. Funders/collaborators/partners include The Economic and Social Research Council, Arts and Humanities Research Council, CAFOD, Voluntary Service Overseas, AgeUK, Institute for Volunteering Research, Home Start, Community Concern Erewash and Volunteer Development Scotland.

Our Objectives

  • To conduct research which addresses contemporary theoretical, conceptual and empirical questions in the study of citizenship and civil society.
  • To provide critical analysis and commentary on policy developments that affect civil society, particularly the role of citizens in civil society.
  • To forge partnerships with civil society actors for the purposes of joint-research projects, seminars, workshops and knowledge-exchange activities.
  • To educate current and future policymakers and civil society leaders through the delivery of research informed teaching, CPD and PhD supervision.

Our Reseach Priorities

Discourses and Practices of Citizenship

  • Theorising citizenship
  • Citizenship discourses and programmes (e.g. in higher education, international development and health)
  • Global and transnational citizenships
  • Relationships between citizenship and philanthropic giving
  • Multiculturalism and multicultural societies
  • Religion and society
  • Gender and citizenship
  • Age and citizenship
  • Resilient communities

Volunteering, volunteers and the nature of voluntary action.

  • Conceptualising volunteering
  • Volunteer motivation (e.g. in relation to age)
  • Volunteering as an embodied activity
  • Volunteering through organisations (VCSOs, NGOs, social enterprise)
  • Community contexts for volunteering (self help, mutual aid, resilient communities) 
  • International volunteering
  • Philanthropy as an expression of voluntary action
  • Activism as voluntarism

Civil society institutions and actors

  • Theorising civil societies
  • NGOs and voluntary sector organisations
  • Social movements and activism
  • Charitable organisations
  • Philanthropic foundations
  • Individual actors (citizens, activities, donors, volunteers)
  • Interface between civil society, public and private sectors (partnership, co-production, conflict)
  • Environmentalism


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