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National minorities - proactive players for social cohesion?

The Citizenship & Ethics Cluster seeks to improve our understanding of social cohesion through the lens of citizenship acts and ethical behaviour. The specific focus is on minorities as actors.

Social exchange in a broad communicative sense is at the centre of this Cluster’s research - social exchange exemplified in citizenship acts and ethical behaviour - and social cohesion seen as dialogical and inter-subjective.

The Citizenship & Ethics Cluster will investigate two leading themes and a number of sub-themes in minority research.

The first leading theme, “minority contribution to society self-creation” will evolve around the participation of national minorities in civic affairs and seek to improve our understanding of national minorities as full members of society, i.e. active citizens contributing to social cohesion.

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Although citizenship rights for members of national minorities remain an unresolved legal issue in some European states, citizenship is not only a question of de jure rights; it is also a question of de facto participation and contribution.

One hypothesis of this area of Cluster research is that minority participation is portrayed one-sided in minority research by emphasizing the non-participation aspect rather than identifying the positive contributions that minority acts of citizenship have offered in Europe and throughout European history.

While often considered “guests”, national minorities in European countries have nevertheless begun to develop strong tools of active citizenship often through volunteering, innovation and by building bridges between cultures. Such acts of citizenship will form the core of the Cluster’s research with a view to inform the current discourse on citizenship.

The second leading theme, “ethical communication in the social cohesion of diverse societies” will address the ethical aspects of social exchange. Narrow concepts of ethics, such as tolerance are generally hailed to overcome the tensions that inherently exist in diverse societies. However, experts argue that it takes pro-action to overcome tension as toleration is passive.

One hypothesis of this area of Cluster research is that the application of narrow concepts prevents societies from reconciling diversity in the processes of social cohesion. Citizenship acts of minorities are often proactive and have ethical intentions. While social cohesion in diverse societies ultimately requires the participation of all members of society in public goods, the proactive citizenship acts of minorities are not always taken into consideration.

Connecting research on citizenship and social cohesion

The Citizenship and Ethics Cluster will connect research on citizenship as ‘Bürgerschaft’ with research on social cohesion as ethical communication in divided societies.

On the one hand, citizenship research has not progressed much beyond rights and responsibilities leaving little discussion for ethical action. On the other hand, social cohesion research has focused mainly on outcome and neglected the means of fostering dialogical social cohesion through inter-subjectivity.

The coupling of research on citizenship and ethics has the specific purpose, therefore, of getting concepts of action and deeds linked in an effort to theorize a dialogical type concept of social cohesion in culturally and ethnically divided societies.


Tove H. Malloy

Affiliated Experts

Kristin Henrard
Will Kymlicka

Cluster News



Chef der Staatskanzlei, Thomas Losse-Müller, besucht ECMI Thomas Losse-Müller machte sich heute ein Bild vom Institut ECMI, von den Aufgaben der Forscher und Mitarbeiter sowie der Rolle des Instituts bei Minderheitenfragen - auch überregional. Bei dem Antrittsbesuch waren auch die Minderheitenbeauftrage Renate Schnack und Linda Pieper aus der Staatskanzlei dabei. Der ECMI-Vorsitzende Jørgen Kühl gab einen Einblick in die Entstehung des Instituts und erklärte die Abgrenzung zum dänischen Grenzforschungsinstitut
[Read more on ECMI InfoChannel]


Chef for statskancelliet i Kiel, Thomas Losse-Müller på besøg hos ECMI Thomas Losse-Müller  (chef for statskancelliet) var idag på besøg hos ECMI for at informere sig om instituttet, om forskerne og medarbejdernes opgaver og om hvilken rolle ECMI spiller i forbindelse med mindretalsspørgsmål også udover landegrænserne.  Ved tiltrædelsesbesøget var også den slesvig-holstenske mindretalskommitterede Renate Schnack og Linda Pieper fra statskancelliet med. ECMIs formand, Jørgen Kühl, fortalte omkring instittutes grundlæggelse og forklarede afgrænsningen til det danske
[Read more on ECMI InfoChannel]
Online now: ECMI Annual Programme 2015

Online now: ECMI Annual Programme 2015

The 2015 programme of the European Centre for Minority Issues (ECMI) is now online. The publication contains ECMI’s main initiatives and ideas in research and action for 2015.
[Read more on ECMI InfoChannel]
Live now: Council of Europe seminar on Sami

Live now: Council of Europe seminar on Sami

The Council of Europe, in cooperation with the Finnish Sami Parliament and the Finnish Ministry for Foreign Affairs, is organizing a seminar “Sami-the people, their culture and languages and the Council of Europe”. The seminar is open to public also via live stream.
[Read more on ECMI InfoChannel]

ECMI founders:

The German Federal GovernmentThe German
Federal Government
The Danish GovernmentThe Danish
The Federal State Schleswig-HolsteinThe Federal State