The recent impact of civil society has been subject to a broad discussion in political science and sociology. Here it has been above all the macro-level of the phenomenon that was paid attention to. The theoretical and methodological approaches of wide scope international research projects underlie frequently a cultural preunderstanding of the concept of civil society. A profound transcultural discussion on the micro-level can help to question these one-sided assumptions. This research tries to transfer the concept, that models of citizen participation are always bound to a specific context, consequently to the Japanese case. Comprehensive works, which summarize scientific discoveries of the practicability of foundation, administration and operative work of applying legal forms are rare, especially works, which are based on empirical data regarding the practical work of those institutions. Thus the present research is an ethnographic study on the practicability of emerging non-governmental organizations in Japan and Germany (NGOs). The research analyzes the dynamic interactions of people, which try to participate in the creation and activities of NGOs and tries to take their perspective to judge modes of civil participation. To do this it examines two innovative forms of organizational life. Its task is to explore legal models and courses of action for the field of voluntary welfare work, which takes place stated publicly in defined legal forms. It goes into possibilities and obstacles in individual voluntary welfare work, especially into the question of establishment and administration of trusts in Germany, as well as into practical issues of organisations, which were recently put up through the new NPO-Law in Japan.
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This research was generously supported by a Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS) Postdoctoral Fellowship for European Researchers and through the Förderverein deutsch-japanischer Kulturbeziehungen e.V., Köln (JaDe).