How do soft author­i­tar­i­an prac­tices hol­low out lib­er­al demo­c­ra­t­ic insti­tu­tions and val­ues? How is „auto­crat­ic legal­ism“ (Kim Lane Schep­pele) put in place by var­i­ous gov­ern­ments? How and why are aca­d­e­m­ic free­dom and free­dom of press under attack? Can we entrust big tech cor­po­ra­tions to guard against hate speech and incite­ments to vio­lence? Which rhetoric and dis­cours­es are employed to under­mine demo­c­ra­t­ic processes?

This blog maps and analy­ses var­i­ous facets of what we define as “soft author­i­tar­i­an­ism” in today’s world. Curat­ed by the Research Group Soft Author­i­tar­i­anisms, it con­tributes to the debate on grow­ing author­i­tar­i­an ten­den­cies around the world.

Offer­ing a cross-dis­ci­pli­nary dia­logue, it address­es var­i­ous forms of chal­lenges to lib­er­al democ­ra­cy and of active cit­i­zen engage­ment to pro­tect and deep­en demo­c­ra­t­ic insti­tu­tions in the face of the cur­rent backlash.

Didier Fassin: Death of a Traveller. A Counter Investigation.

Jens Adam22. Sep­tem­ber 202110 min read
<strong>Didier Fassin: Death of a Traveller.</strong> A Counter Investigation.

Ein 37-jähriger Mann wird auf dem elter­lichen Hof von der franzö­sis­chen Polizei erschossen, nach­dem er sich nach dem gewährten Freigang nicht ins Gefäng­nis zurück­begeben hat­te. Jens Adam rezen­siert Didi­er Fassins neu erschienenes Buch, im dem die Umstände des Todes nachvollzogen…

On Daily Encounters and Public Infrastructures: What Keeps Democracies Alive?

Jens Adam6. July 20217 min read

Democ­ra­cy in Ques­tion? – Through a Soft Author­i­tar­i­an Lens In this com­ment, Jens Adam reflects on episode S2E5 of the pod­cast series “Democ­ra­cy in Ques­tion?” fea­tur­ing Till van Rah­den. Once in pow­er, soft author­i­tar­i­an politi­cians strive to dom­i­nate pub­lic institutions…

Soft Authoritarianism and the Ambivalences of Europeanisation: What Role Could the EU Play?

Jens Adam6. May 20218 min read

Democ­ra­cy in Ques­tion? – Through a soft author­i­tar­i­an lens In this com­ment, Jens Adam reflects on the lat­est episode of the pod­cast series “Democ­ra­cy in Ques­tion?” fea­tur­ing Tim­o­thy Gar­ton Ash. Jens argues that the role that the EU plays in…

Civil Society Revisited: Democracy and Grassroots Authoritarianism

Jens Adam9. April 20219 min read

Democ­ra­cy in Ques­tion? – Through a Soft Author­i­tar­i­an Lens In this com­ment on the last episode of our pod­cast series ‘Democ­ra­cy in Ques­tion?’ Jens Adam reflects on Mary Kaldor’s notions of  ‘Civ­il Soci­ety’ and ‘Hor­i­zon­tal Democ­ra­cy’. Draw­ing on exam­ples from Poland, Belarus and Ukraine,…

Ranabir Samaddar: The Postcolonial Age of Migration

Ayşe Çağlar25. March 20219 min read
<strong>Ranabir Samaddar:</strong> The Postcolonial Age of Migration

This book crit­i­cal­ly exam­ines the ques­tion of migra­tion that appears at the inter­sec­tion of glob­al neo-lib­er­al trans­for­ma­tion, post­colo­nial pol­i­tics, and econ­o­my. It analy­ses the spe­cif­ic ways in which colo­nial rela­tions are pro­duced and repro­duced in glob­al migra­to­ry flows and their…

Fear Eats the Soul. Ruth Wodak’s The Politics of Fear

Miloš Vec16. March 202110 min read
<strong>Fear Eats the Soul. </strong>Ruth Wodak’s The Politics of Fear

Far-right pop­ulist pol­i­tics have arrived in the main­stream. We are now wit­ness­ing the shame­less nor­mal­iza­tion of a polit­i­cal dis­course built around nation­al­ism, xeno­pho­bia, racism, sex­ism, anti­semitism and Islam­o­pho­bia. But what does this change mean? What caused it? And how does…

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 Islamism with crit­i­cal aca­d­e­m­ic dis­ci­plines such as decolo­nial­ism, post­colo­nial studies…

Emergency Use of Public Funds: Implications for Democratic Governance

Shali­ni Ran­de­ria, Deval Desai and Chris­tine Lutringer9. Decem­ber 202010 min read

This arti­cle was orig­i­nal­ly writ­ten for Glob­al Chal­lenges and pub­lished in the jour­nal Spe­cial Issue 1 “Pol­i­tics of the Coro­n­avirus Pan­dem­ic” (June 2020). Around the world, unspent pub­lic funds are being repur­posed on a very large scale in response to…