In a time when the authorities of nation-states are increasingly challenged, both by local and transnational actors, it is important to go beyond a national perspective on democracy and democratization. Is it, for instance, possible to conceive of transnational social capital and the development of transnational democracy?
This project aims at understanding and explaining processes of democratization on the local level in the East European Baltic Sea region. The focus is on the consolidation of democracy in comparatively successful regions. Special attention is paid to developments within civil society. Instead of aiming at a comprehensive analysis of all factors promoting local democracy, we single out three sets of factors, which seem to be of profound importance, yet comparatively unresearched. First, we examine local processes of institutionalization. Second, we look at the impact of transnational cooperation between local popular movements. Third, we analyze the role of international support for democratization. By highlighting these factors we try to integrate local and transnational perspectives.
Cooperation is a key concept linking the different levels of analysis. Cooperation between local actors and the development of trust within local civil society is of utmost importance in the process of democratic institutionalisation. Cooperation between civil society actors in different countries may also contribute to the consolidation of democracy on the local level. Furthermore, foreign aid cooperation between donors and recipients with the explicit aim of promoting democracy needs to be analyzed.