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

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  Mary Kaldor (Lon­don School of Eco­nom­ics) lends us her expe­ri­ence as both an aca­d­e­m­ic and an activist in the peace…

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 world over have been slow to react, even as more cit­i­zens have been call­ing for rad­i­cal action. In this episode,…

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 cast doubt on its legit­i­ma­cy and abil­i­ty to cre­ate and pre­serve a just and equi­table soci­ety. In this episode, the…

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 renowned British econ­o­mist, Lord Robert Skidel­sky has argued that lib­er­al democ­ra­cy rests on a wel­fare state, so that aus­ter­i­ty politics…

Episode 6: What Will Remain of Trumpism Going Forward?

1. Feb­ru­ary 202129:05 min listen

Joe Biden was declared the next pres­i­dent of the Unit­ed States over a month ago now, but Don­ald Trump has not yet con­ced­ed his own defeat. Claim­ing vot­er fraud he has launched legal bat­tles to try to undo the results of the elec­tion, to no avail. What mech­a­nisms, insti­tu­tions and…

Episode 5: ‘Soft Authoritarianism’, a New Face of Electoral Democracy?

1. Feb­ru­ary 202125:37 min listen

A new kind of elect­ed leader has emerged across the globe: one who rules with a large par­lia­men­tary major­i­ty and this with a claim to demo­c­ra­t­ic legit­i­ma­cy, but who uses pow­er to hol­low out democ­ra­cy from the inside. So is such ‘soft author­i­tar­i­an­ism’ that uses the law to under­mine liberal…

Episode 4: Can Liberal Democracies Right the Wrongs of Racial and Gender Injustices?

26. Novem­ber 202023:41 min listen

We have recent­ly seen mil­lions of peo­ple tak­ing to the streets to protest social, polit­i­cal and envi­ron­men­tal injus­tices. Even a glob­al pan­dem­ic couldn’t stop pro­test­ers across the world from show­ing their sup­port to the Black Lives Mat­ter move­ment. In this episode, we’re joined by Pro­fes­sor Nan­cy Fras­er (The New School) and…

Episode 3: Undermining Democracy by Democratic Means: how can we stop it?

26. Novem­ber 202026:24 min listen

As the results of the 2020 US elec­tion are trick­ling in, we are explor­ing how laws – and notably elec­toral laws – can be used to dis­man­tle the con­sti­tu­tion­al sys­tems from with­in. The under­min­ing of democ­ra­cy evokes sharp images of author­i­tar­i­an­ism and a con­tempt for lib­er­tar­i­an­ism. Instead, what we are…

Episode 2: How Viable is Western Liberal Democracy when Transplanted Across the World?

26. Novem­ber 202025:32 min listen

In this episode of Democ­ra­cy in Ques­tion? Shali­ni Ran­de­ria asks if the ideals of lib­er­al democ­ra­cy – free and fair elec­tions, sep­a­ra­tion of pow­ers, rule of law and respect for human rights – may be export­ed eas­i­ly from the West to oth­er parts of the world? This is a ques­tion espe­cial­ly salient…

Episode 1: A Trumpian Blip or a Fundamental Flaw in American Democracy?

26. Novem­ber 202025:38 min listen

This series comes at a time when the lib­er­al demo­c­ra­t­ic order estab­lished after the Sec­ond World War is under unprece­dent­ed strain. After the fall of the Berlin Wall, there was a view that author­i­tar­i­an rule was con­fined to the dust­bin of his­to­ry and West­­ern-style lib­er­al democ­ra­cy would reign supreme the…

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…