Fea­tur­ing some of the most impor­tant voic­es from con­tem­po­rary acad­e­mia, the pod­cast series “Democ­ra­cy in Ques­tion?” dis­cuss­es var­i­ous demo­c­ra­t­ic expe­ri­ences and exper­i­ments, cur­rent crises as well as long-term chal­lenges to democ­ra­cy such as issues of legit­i­ma­cy, dis­en­fran­chise­ment, or inequality.

“Democ­ra­cy in Ques­tion?” host­ed by Shali­ni Ran­de­ria is a joint pro­duc­tion of the Grad­u­ate Institute’s Albert Hirschman Cen­tre on Democ­ra­cy, the Insti­tute for Human Sci­ences (IWM) Vien­na, and the Research Group Soft Author­i­tar­i­anisms, Uni­ver­si­ty of Bre­men. It is pro­duced in coop­er­a­tion with Richard Miron and Anouk Milet (Earshot strategies).

Sound of Democ­ra­cy” is our new pod­cast project, planned for 2021. In col­lab­o­ra­tion with the Insti­tute for Human Sci­ences (IWM) Vien­na and artist Mukul Patel , we’re ask­ing how democ­ra­cy sounds today in dif­fer­ent parts of the world, how we talk about democ­ra­cy and which metaphors we use doing so. Sound of Democ­ra­cy is part research project part fusion of artis­tic sound­scapes and schol­ar­ly reflection.

Democ­ra­cy in Question?

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. World­wide, they are being torn apart by inequal­i­ties, polit­i­cal polar­iza­tion and a pol­i­tics of hate. Cit­i­zens are using the streets and the courts to chal­lenge author­i­ty and to seek the account­abil­i­ty that is often miss­ing at the bal­lot box­es. The form, con­tent, insti­tu­tions, prac­tices and, ulti­mate­ly, the very prin­ci­ples of lib­er­al democ­ra­cy are being called into ques­tion from India to Hun­gary and from Brazil to the US.

Host­ed by Shali­ni Ran­de­ria, Rec­tor of the IWM, Direc­tor of the Cen­tre at the Grad­u­ate Insti­tute, and Excel­lence Chair, Uni­ver­si­ty of Bre­men (Research Group: Soft Author­i­tar­i­an­ism). It fea­tures some of the most impor­tant voic­es in con­tem­po­rary acad­e­mia. Togeth­er they reflect on demo­c­ra­t­ic expe­ri­ences and exper­i­ments the world over and explore whether this cri­sis of democ­ra­cy rep­re­sents a his­tor­i­cal­ly unique chal­lenge or whether par­al­lels to polit­i­cal crises in the past can be discerned.

While each episode address­es issues con­cern­ing the con­tem­po­rary chal­lenges to democ­ra­cy in dif­fer­ent con­texts, the series is also com­mit­ted to explor­ing themes in the longue durée of democ­ra­cy that have occu­pied social sci­en­tists for decades.

Join Shali­ni Ran­de­ria and lead­ing schol­ars for an explo­ration of the dilem­mas fac­ing democ­ra­cies world­wide. Sub­scribe now, wher­ev­er you get your podcasts!

All Episodes: Democ­ra­cy in Question

S07E10: Paul Lend­vai on “Aus­tria Behind the Mask” 

22. Novem­ber 202339:48

This episode explores Aus­tri­an his­to­ry and pol­i­tics, look­ing to lessons of the past to under­stand the future of democ­ra­cy in the coun­try. What might grow­ing sup­port for right wing nation­al­ism mean for Aus­tria? And how does the coun­try’s neu­tral­i­ty play a role in rela­tion­ships with exter­nal pow­er in the EU…

S07E09: Maciej Kisilows­ki on the Pol­ish Elections 

8. Novem­ber 202344:47

This episode explores Poland’s recent elec­tion results and their sig­nif­i­cance as a turn­ing point in democ­ra­cy in Poland. Will this elec­tion mark the end of an illib­er­al peri­od in the coun­try? And might it be the start of a pro­gres­sive wave sweep­ing across Europe? Lis­ten to hear an analy­sis of…

S07E08: Kalyp­so Nico­laidis on Gov­ern­ing Togeth­er Through “Demo­icra­cy” (Part 2)

25. Octo­ber 202347:03

This episode explores grass­roots utopi­an prac­tices and the Demo­c­ra­t­ic Odyssey project, which recent­ly con­vened in Athens. Build­ing upon the notion of “demo­icra­cy” in the Euro­pean Union – the ide­al of a union of peo­ple that gov­ern togeth­er, but not as one – the con­ver­sa­tion inves­ti­gates col­lec­tive access to polit­i­cal decision-making…

S07E07: Kalyp­so Nico­laidis on Gov­ern­ing Togeth­er Through “Demo­icra­cy” (Part 1)

11. Octo­ber 202350:21

This episode explores the notion of “demo­icra­cy” in the Euro­pean Union – the ide­al of a union of peo­ple that gov­ern togeth­er, but not as one. What might plu­ral­iz­ing democ­ra­cy look like? And do recent exper­i­ments war­rant opti­mism in cit­i­zen assem­blies? Lis­ten to hear about emer­gent new mod­els of transnational…

S07E06: Jan­ka Oer­tel on “The End of the Chi­na Illu­sion” (Part 2)

27. Sep­tem­ber 202354:09

This episode explores Chi­na’s thin­ly veiled projects of expand­ing glob­al influ­ence. Does Chi­nese con­trol of crit­i­cal infra­struc­ture and eco­nom­ic sup­ply chains threat­en Europe’s auton­o­my? And how can democ­ra­cies counter the glob­al spread of Chi­nese Com­mu­nist Par­ty ide­ol­o­gy? Lis­ten to hear about Chi­na’s vul­ner­a­bil­i­ties to polit­i­cal protest and why many Chinese…

S07E05: Nobel Prize Win­ner Joseph Stiglitz on a More Equi­table Future 

13. Sep­tem­ber 202347:55

This episode, record­ed live at the 2023 Alp­bach Forum in Tirol, Aus­tria, explores why eco­nom­ic inequal­i­ties have increased over recent years and how such strat­i­fi­ca­tion is detri­men­tal to democ­ra­cy. What has been learned through past and cur­rent crises? And how might the green tran­si­tion play a role in the future?…

S07E04: Jan­ka Oer­tel on “The End of the Chi­na Illu­sion” (Part 1)

30. August 202346:47

This episode explores illu­sions about Chi­na’s ambi­tions relat­ed to expand­ing mil­i­tary and eco­nom­ic pow­er. How have such illu­sions been per­pet­u­at­ed by Ger­mans and Euro­peans in order to main­tain prof­it for com­pa­nies? And what does a real­is­tic assess­ment of Chi­na’s cur­rent ambi­tions of glob­al eco­nom­ic dom­i­nance, mil­i­tary might and tech­no­log­i­cal supremacy,…

S07E03: Ale­jan­dra Bal­lon Gutier­rez on Body Pol­i­tics in Peru 

26. July 202344:52

This episode explores for­mer Peru­vian Pres­i­dent Alber­to Fuji­mori’s pop­u­la­tion con­trol pro­grams and how eugenic prin­ci­ples have led to the force­ful ster­il­iza­tion of women belong­ing to var­i­ous indige­nous com­mu­ni­ties. What role do for­eign gov­ern­ments and inter­na­tion­al donors play in the racial­ized pol­i­tics of pop­u­la­tion con­trol, and how have vio­la­tions of women’s…

S07E02: Kim Lane Schep­pele on Destroy­ing Democ­ra­cy by Law

12. July 202347:36

This episode focus­es on com­par­isons of soft author­i­tar­i­an regimes and the phe­nom­e­non of auto­crat­ic legal­ism. How do the uses and abus­es of law play a role in dis­man­tling lib­er­al democ­ra­cy from with­in and cement­ing author­i­tar­i­an rule? Lis­ten to hear how coun­tries includ­ing Turkey, Hun­gary and the Unit­ed States are using…

S07E01: Ulrike Flad­er on Turkey at the Crossroads

28. June 202338:06

This episode explores the far-reach­ing impli­ca­tions of the recent Turk­ish elec­tions. In a close­ly con­test­ed elec­tion, Pres­i­dent Erdoğan has won a third term in office, dash­ing hopes of a return to a lib­er­al, sec­u­lar, pro-Euro­­pean gov­ern­ment in Turkey. What led to this result espe­cial­ly after the impact of the devastating…

S06E10: Daniela Schwarz­er on Europe’s Strate­gic Conun­drums (Part 2)

31. May 202338:38

This episode explores cur­rent dilem­mas faced by the Euro­pean Union and the pur­suit of strate­gic auton­o­my. How has a reliance on soft pow­er, mul­ti­lat­er­al coop­er­a­tion and eco­nom­ic inte­gra­tion cre­at­ed the cur­rent con­di­tions of secu­ri­ty and sov­er­eign­ty in the EU? And what have the cur­rent and mul­ti­ple crises brought to the forefront?…

S06E09: Daniela Schwarz­er on Europe’s Strate­gic Conun­drums (Part 1)

17. May 202338:35

This episode explores the chal­lenges and stakes in the pur­suit of strate­gic auton­o­my for the Euro­pean Union. How has the war in Ukraine rewrit­ten the rules of transat­lantic rela­tions and geopol­i­tics for the EU? And what does the inter­nal cohe­sion and uni­ty of the EU look like today? Lis­ten to hear fundamental…

S06E08: Mar­tin Kry­gi­er on Anti-Con­sti­­tu­­tion­al Populism

3. May 202349:14

This episode explores how pop­ulists effec­tive­ly use con­sti­tu­tions to under­mine and abol­ish con­sti­tu­tion­al­ism. What legal­is­tic tac­tics are often hid­ing behind cul­tur­al­ist argu­ments to sub­vert the rule of law? And how can law be bet­ter used in the ser­vice of lib­er­al democ­ra­cy? Guests fea­tured in this episode: Mar­tin Kry­gi­er is a pro­fes­sor of…

S06E07: Yehou­da Shen­hav-Shahra­bani on Israel: Democ­ra­cy on the Defensive

19. April 202338:38

This episode explores what kind of democ­ra­cy is being defend­ed in Israel today. Who are the sup­port­ers of the rul­ing coali­tion and what explains the pop­u­lar appeal of the right-wing par­ties? Lis­ten to a dis­cus­sion with a wide his­tor­i­cal con­text about the present polit­i­cal cri­sis, which many schol­ars have called…

S06E06: Sergei Guriev on the Chang­ing Face of Autocracy 

29. March 202343:55

This episode explores the main dif­fer­ences between con­tem­po­rary, qua­si-dic­­ta­­to­r­i­al regimes based on spin, and old­er 20th-cen­­tu­ry dic­ta­tor­ships based on overt repres­sion and fear. Why do spin dic­ta­tors demon­strate a com­mit­ment to demo­c­ra­t­ic elec­tions and how do their actions under­mine democ­ra­cy from with­in? Lis­ten to find out what such regimes teach…

Sound of Democracy

Pro­gramme: Sound of democracy

Enter­ing into Con­ver­sa­tion about the Sound of Democracy

1. Feb­ru­ary 2021

The fol­low­ing text describes a project com­ple­ment­ing the Sound of Democ­ra­cy pod­cast, that will be car­ried out by Prof. Dr. Ingo H. Warnke and two of his doc­tor­al stu­dents, name­ly Chris­t­ian Bär and Hagen Stein­hauer. Inter­views on How Democ­ra­cy Sounds What does democ­ra­cy sound like today? How is its sound…

Sound of Democ­ra­cy. Blog, Pod­cast and Inter­view Project

1. Feb­ru­ary 2021

This blog post is a con­tri­bu­tion by a team of lin­guists at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Bre­men, name­ly Prof. Dr. Ingo H. Warnke and two of his doc­tor­al stu­dents, Chris­t­ian Bär as well as Hagen Stein­hauer, who is also a mem­ber of the Research Group on Soft Author­i­tar­i­an­ism, which is directed…

Sound of Democ­ra­cy. Sound as a Metaphor

1. Feb­ru­ary 2021

The fol­low­ing text dia­logues with the pod­cast from the per­spec­tive of lin­guis­tics as a dis­ci­pline and was writ­ten by Prof. Dr. Ingo H. Warnke togeth­er with two of his doc­tor­al stu­dents, name­ly Chris­t­ian Bär and Hagen Stein­hauer. The word sound can refer to a wide range of phe­nom­e­na. With­in the…