Soft Author­i­tar­i­an­ism, a con­cept that appears con­tra­dic­to­ry, aims to cap­ture the cur­rent fuzzi­ness of democ­ra­cies slid­ing into author­i­tar­i­an rule the world over. For­mal elec­tions bol­ster the pow­er of strong­men, majori­tar­i­an democ­ra­cies under­mine the rights of minori­ties, the rule of law is hol­lowed out using the con­sti­tu­tion, and dis­cours­es of free­dom of expres­sion are deployed to dis­man­tle fun­da­men­tal human rights.

Our Research Group stud­ies in com­par­a­tive per­spec­tive the flu­id and flex­i­ble polit­i­cal, juridi­cal, social and dis­cur­sive con­fig­u­ra­tions which blur the line between demo­c­ra­t­ic and author­i­tar­i­an prac­tices of rule. It exam­ines how soft author­i­tar­i­anisms of var­i­ous vari­eties are estab­lished and con­test­ed in dif­fer­ent con­texts. How are these new forms of rule legit­imized dis­cur­sive­ly, imple­ment­ed insti­tu­tion­al­ly? How are respon­si­bil­i­ties and account­abil­i­ty watered down, pow­er cen­tral­ized and its trans­fer imped­ed? What forms of mobi­liza­tion and action by cit­i­zens attempt to stem the slow and sys­tem­at­ic ero­sion of lib­er­al demo­c­ra­t­ic insti­tu­tions? In what ways has the Covid-19 pan­dem­ic exac­er­bat­ed author­i­tar­i­an ten­den­cies and are they here to stay?

Our three con­trastive case stud­ies link­ing ethnog­ra­phy with dis­course analy­sis and doc­u­men­tary research focus on Poland, France and Turkey/​the Turk­ish-Euro­pean diaspora.

The concerted attack on academic freedom in France

Hagen Stein­hauer22. Feb­ru­ary 20218 min read

France is expe­ri­enc­ing at the moment a dis­cur­sive shift that puts aca­d­e­m­ic free­dom in dan­ger. Using the notion of islamo-gauchisme, right-wing actors as well as mem­bers of the gov­ern­ment connect…

Emergency Use of Public Funds: Implications for Democratic Governance

Shali­ni Ran­de­ria, Deval Desai and Chris­tine Lutringer9. Decem­ber 20209 min read

Around the world, unspent pub­lic funds are being repur­posed on a very large scale in response to the Covid-19 emer­gency. Often intend­ed ini­tial­ly for the poor or mar­gin­alised, these funds…

Defending Press Freedom in the Time of Coronavirus

Shali­ni Ran­de­ria30. April 20205 min read

The coro­n­avirus cri­sis has pro­vid­ed a wel­come pre­text for soft author­i­tar­i­an regimes the world over to strength­en their hold on pow­er, with their declared states of excep­tion poten­tial­ly becom­ing the…

Introducing Podcast Series: Democracy in Question

Episode 10: Democracy from below: what real utopias can we build on?

2. March 2021

Cit­i­zens have a cru­cial role to play in polit­i­cal life and can have tremen­dous pow­er, as they come togeth­er in asso­ci­a­tions and social move­ments. To close this first sea­son, Professor …

Episode 9: Can Liberal Democracy Outlive Climate Change?

17. Feb­ru­ary 202128:00 min listen

Pri­or to the Covid 19 pan­dem­ic, the issue on everyone’s minds was cli­mate change. Sci­en­tists have been rais­ing the alarm for the good part of three decades, but politi­cians the…

Episode 8: How do Economic Inequalities Corrode Democratic Processes?

1. Feb­ru­ary 202128:11 min listen

Cap­i­tal­ism has come under attack in recent years, notably because of grow­ing eco­nom­ic inequal­i­ties not only between the glob­al North and South, but also with­in West­ern coun­tries. Some crit­ics even…

Episode 7: How does Austerity Politics Weaken Democracy?

1. Feb­ru­ary 202125:41 min listen

Since the intro­duc­tion of neolib­er­al poli­cies under Thatch­er and Rea­gan many coun­tries world­wide have imple­ment­ed aus­ter­i­ty pol­i­tics that dis­man­tled social secu­ri­ty pro­grams by cut­ting pub­lic fund­ing. Our guest today, the…

Christoph Probst Lecture 2021: Spielarten des „sanften“ Autoritarismus: Wie Demokratien demokratisch ausgehöhlt werden


Time: 18:00

Loca­tion: Uni­ver­sität Innsbrück

Addi­tion­al event info: Ref­er­entin: Prof. Dr. Shali­ni Randeria 

Im Mit­telpunkt des Vor­trags ste­ht der wider­sprüch­lich anmu­tende Begriff des „san­ften“ Autori­taris­mus (soft author­i­tar­i­an­ism). Er bezieht sich auf Demokra­tien, die in vie­len Teilen der Welt von zunehmend autoritären Prak­tiken gekennze­ich­net sind. Gegen­wär­tig wer­den lib­erale Werte wie Insti­tu­tio­nen mit for­malen, recht­staatlichen Mit­teln von durch Wahlen legit­imierten Poli­tik­ern unter­miniert, die somit die Grund­la­gen von Demokratie von innen aushöhlen. Anhand von Beispie­len wie vot­er sup­pres­sion und ger­ry­man­der­ing in den USA, auto­crat­ic legal­ism in Polen und Ungarn sowie Angrif­f­en auf die Presse­frei­heit, auf zivilge­sellschaftliche Organ­i­sa­tio­nen oder die Uni­ver­sität­sau­tonomie in der Türkei, wird im Vor­trag hin­ter die „san­ften“ Züge dieser neuen Aus­prä­gung von Autori­taris­mus geblickt. Fern­er wirft der Vor­trag die dringliche Frage nach den Möglichkeit­en sowie Gren­zen zivilge­sellschaftlichen Wider­stands gegen diesen weichgeze­ich­neten Autori­taris­mus auf.

Diese Ver­anstal­tung wird live auf Youtube gestreamt.

Yisares Autumn School


9. Octo­ber 202117. Octo­ber 2021

Loca­tion: Delmenhorst/​Bremen

This nine-day inter­dis­ci­pli­nary Autumn Research School aims at map­ping the dif­fer­ent forms of extrac­tivist cap­i­tal­ism across transna­tion­al spaces and emerg­ing rela­tion­al geo­gra­phies includ­ing cur­rent devel­op­ments in finance, logis­tics and dig­i­tal economies.