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ChancenZeit – Time of opportunities

Discussions about the future of a service to society

he introduction of a mandatory “Gesellschaftsjahr” (society year) has been discussed by German politicians and society for some years now. The idea is that young adults, after completing their schooling, would be required to spend a year serving society in an area of their free choice, i.e. in a social, cultural, ecological or charitable institution or, alternatively, in the German armed forces. What do young people themselves think about service to society and how should it be structured in the future?

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In times of increasing military threats and social divisions, questions around resilience and cohesion in the population are gaining importance. In this context, the introduction of a mandatory year for a service to society has been discussed for several years already. The Russian war of aggression on Ukraine brought a new momentum to the discussion about moving away from voluntarism. In the debate on the social year, two main positions are held, despite a fundamental diversity of opinion on the details of the framework conditions: On the one hand, there are advocates of a mandatory service for school graduates; on the other hand, there are critics of the obligation, who argue in favor of strengthening and expanding existing volunteer service opportunities.

With the aim of discussing open-endedly how the concerned age group in particular feels about compulsory service to society throughout Germany, a nationwide campaign entitled "ChancenZeit" was launched in spring 2023. As part of the campaign, around 1,900 participants, half of them young people aged 14 to 19, attended a total of 36 events across Germany to discuss from various perspectives the form that service to society should take.

In addition to legal aspects, possibilities for expanding existing infrastructures and incentives for service providers, the question of a potential obligation was also the subject of lively discussions. There were also debates about the duration and financing of this service for society.

Read about the results of the campaign in the Monitor "ChancenZeit- Diskussionen um die Zukunft des Dienstes an der Gesellschaft" here as a PDF.

Please note, to date the study is only available in German.

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The Monitor series deals with one main topic at a time from the perspective of KAS experts and places it in the political and social context on the basis of a few key points.

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