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Nordic Civil Societies

How have civil societies’ global, transnational and regional interactions shaped ideas about "Norden"?

Black and white photo. Men and women are gathered around a big table. The Norwegian flag is hanging on the back wall.

Meeting in the Norwegian Lutheran Mission.

Photo: NLM-archive

About the project

"Nordic Civil Societies: Global, Transnational and Regional Encounters since 1800" studies the role of civil societies in "Norden" and the "Nordic model."

A focus on voluntary organisations’ role between the state, the market, and the private sphere opens new perspectives on ideas and practices which are understood as particularly Nordic.

The high membership rate in voluntary associations makes "Norden" an ideal case for investigating the link between civil society and democratic governance.


In the Nordic countries, the particular nexus between state and civil societies has had consequences for the "Nordic model" of society, cooperation within the Nordic region, and Nordic global engagement. The project studies these consequences.

The project comprises three pillars:

  • Pillar I: Civil Societies and the State: Critical Perspectives on the Performance of a "Nordic Model" of Society
  • Pillar II: Nordic Civil Societies since 1800: Transnational Cooperation, International Models and National Adaptions
  • Pillar III: Beyond the Nordic: Civil Societies, Transnational Political Activism and Global Encounters

 An abbreviated version of the project description (PDF). 


Nordic Civil Societies is led by Sunniva Engh, together with Klaus Nathaus and Ruth Hemstad, and involves 30 researchers from a range of disciplines. The project is hosted by the Department of Archaeology, Conservation and History (IAKH), University of Oslo (UiO). 

Collaborating partners are:

Nordic Civil Societies includes scholars from the following institutions:


February 2020 - February 2023

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Published Mar. 16, 2020 2:58 PM - Last modified Nov. 23, 2020 1:57 PM