Forty scholars from the Albert Hirschman Centre on Democracy’s research team and affiliated faculty contribute to the development of projects that bridge theoretical and empirical research, as well as academic and policy work. Research at the Centre focuses on three main pillars:
THEME 1: Transformation of economies, inequalities, and solidarities
Growing inequalities and the hollowing out of the middle classes 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 development and 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.
THEME 2: Technology, democratic innovation, and media
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.
THEME 3: Democratic governance, participation, and accountability
This theme examines 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.