Albert Hirschman Centre on Democracy
27 January 2021

Democracy in Question? Season 1

Our new podcast series hosted by Shalini Randeria

Most of the world’s population lives in a formal democracy today. But, in both established and new democracies trust in parliaments and political parties is plummeting. Democracies are being torn apart by inequalities, political polarization and a politics of hate. Worldwide, they are burdened with public debt and facing popular discontent. Citizens are using the streets and the courts to challenge authority. They are seeking accountability that is often missing at the ballot boxes. The form, content, institutions, practices and, ultimately, the very survival of liberal democracy is being called into question from India to Hungary and from Brazil to the US.

Is this just a moment of disenchantment? Is it a sign of a deeper malaise of democracy itself? Or is it the result of untamed capitalism destroying democracy? Can democracy right the wrongs of economic, racial and gender injustice? When do we know that the red lines of democracy’s degeneration into soft authoritarian rule have been crossed? And despite all this can we hope to see a renewal and reform of democracy?

The Albert Hirschman Centre on Democracy’s podcast series Democracy in Question? explores these questions with experts from various disciplines, who reflect on the variety of democratic experiences and experiments the world over. Hosted by Shalini Randeria, Director of the Centre and Professor of Social Anthropology and Sociology at the Graduate Institute, Geneva, and Rector of the Institute for Human Sciences, Vienna, the podcast series is presenting some of the most important voices on these themes in contemporary academia.

The first season of Democracy in Question? features 10 episodes that were released from October 2020 to February 2021 (episode details below). The second season started in April 2021 and features 15 episodes (see details on the dedicated webpage). While each episode seeks answers to specific questions concerning the contemporary challenges to democracy in different contexts, the series is also committed to exploring the enduring themes and issues in the longue durée of democracy that have occupied social scientists over the years.

Join Shalini Randeria and leading scholars for an exploration of the dilemmas facing democracies worldwide. Subscribe now!

Simplecast website:

Apple Podcasts:




Released episodes:

Listen to the trailer



This podcast series is co-produced by the Graduate Institute’s Albert Hirschman Centre on Democracy and the Institute for Human Sciences (IWM) Vienna, in cooperation with the Excellence Chair, University of Bremen (Research Group: Soft Authoritarianism).

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