Forty scholars from the Albert Hirschman Centre on Democracy’s core research team and affiliated faculty have contributed to the development of projects that bridge theoretical and empirical research, academic and policy work. Research at the Centre focuses on three main pillars:
THEME 1: Democratic practices, mobilisation and accountability
These projects examine democratic practices, ranging from shifting constellations of ‘voice’ in the public space, to the re-definition of norms, laws and policy priorities. They focus on the forms (and blockages) of participation. This pillar also explores how courts may act as ‘counter majoritarian’ protectors of vulnerable minorities – especially with respect to gender, language and race. Given the interest in transparency and accountability at all levels (political and economic actors; national and transnational), this research pillar has strong policy relevance, especially in the context of the global responses to COVID-19.
THEME 2: Transformation of work, inequalities and solidarities
Growing inequalities and the hollowing out of the middle classes – trends exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic – can have adverse effects on the social contract, encourage populism, and risk undermining constitutional democracy. This pillar explores how elites shape unequal democracies and how shifts in political power are entangled with new configurations of “voice” and “exit” in digital markets and workplaces. It also examines how questions of economic democracy can be redefined and may become the new connecting dots between the academic world, civil society, and policymaking communities at local and international levels. We aim to develop AHCD policy activities related to social dialogue, understood as an important tool for strengthening participatory democracy.
THEME 3: Democracy, media and knowledge production in the digital age
This pillar examines how digitalization affects democratic practices and representations. With the transformation of image production and dissemination, the role of images in the making of social relations and democratic politics is increasingly salient. The overabundance of information, including deliberate misinformation and disinformation, also significantly affects electoral integrity and democratic processes. This pillar has strong ties to the policy world and it explores visual representations of democracy through diverse media.