Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg


Dr. Jasmin Lüdemann

phone: 0345-5521705

Franckeplatz 1, Haus 31
06110 Halle

postal address:
Zentrum für Schul- und Bildungsforschung
Martin-Luther-Universität Halle-Wittenberg
06099 Halle

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The reciprocal interaction of digitalisation and young people’s civic engagement activities in rural regions

This project endeavours to identify the significance of digital media to voluntary and civic engagement activities and political participation undertaken by young people in rural areas. Our emphasis lies specifically on young people’s habitual interactions with digital media as they relate to local opportunities for and infrastructures around volunteering and civic engagement.

A multi-faceted research process entails the use of quantitative methods to describe local structures in the civic engagement field and qualitative procedures (expert and semi-structured interviews) for casting light on the significance young people and voluntary or civic organisations ascribe to digital media in this context and on their practical activities in this field. The project draws its definition of civic engagement (in German Engagement) from the Third Civic Engagement Report, issued by the German Federal Ministry of Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth. Accordingly, it conceives of these activities as encompassing a broad spectrum that includes informal initiatives and those organised by young people themselves alongside more formal structures. Our work also pays attention to the possibilities generated by digitally-based activities and the challenges they pose to a redefinition of what are currently observable as typical forms of volunteering, civic engagement and political participation.

In this light, the project’s objectives are:

  • to survey the existing situation as regards projects and initiatives organised by and/or involving young people in two rural regions of the German federal state of Saxony-Anhalt, each with a distinct character, and on this basis to explore the significance of digital media, their specificities in this context, and the current state of their active use for voluntary and civic engagement activities in rural areas
  • to ascertain the significance of digital media to young people’s civic engagement activities in rural areas, young people’s conception of what it means to be socially involved and active in the context of digital spaces of opportunity, and the relevance of their practices in this context to local structures of citizen activity and participation
  • to reconstruct attitudes towards and changes in practices of civic engagement effected by processes of digitalisation, from the viewpoints of organisations on the ground (clubs, societies and associations; initiatives run by open youth work providers) and of local authorities.

In so doing, this research aims to uncover reciprocal interactions between processes of digitalisation and young people’s involvement in their communities, the challenges of these interactions and their impact on community cohesion in rural regions.

German Federal Ministry for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth (BMFSFJ) (2016): Second Engagement Report. Demographic Change and Civic Engagement: Civic Engagement and its Contribution to Local Development, Freiburg im Breisgau.

Cooperating individuals and institutions

Project Team

Project team member: Dr Jasmin Lüdemann

Research assistants: Dominic Keßler, Luca Schneider

Associate team member: Dr Katja Ludwig, Anna Traus