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

S08E09: Seema Sye­da Address­es Islam­o­pho­bia Across Europe 

22. May 202445:39

This episode explores Islam­o­pho­bia across Europe as a form of struc­tur­al racism. How does Islam­o­pho­bia oper­ate as a tool of diver­sion and divi­sion? And why do such per­cep­tions play a cru­cial role in Euro­pean pol­i­tics today? Lis­ten to hear about the prospects for eman­ci­pa­to­ry pol­i­tics on var­i­ous scales to combat…

S08E08: Zsolt Enye­di on the Crises of Liberalism 

8. May 202450:31

This episode explores the crises of lib­er­al­ism. How do recent con­di­tions of uncer­tain­ty and mul­ti­ple crises play a role in ampli­fy­ing the appeal of illib­er­al ide­olo­gies? And how does illib­er­al­ism dif­fer from author­i­tar­i­an­ism and pop­ulism? Tune in to hear how the defense of lib­er­al­ism requires a con­nec­tion to the everyday…

S08E07: Michael Wolde­mari­am on Chal­lenges Fac­ing African Democ­ra­cy (Part 2)

24. April 202434:09

This episode explores how the lega­cies of Euro­pean colo­nial­ism in Africa impact the suc­cess of democ­ra­ti­za­tion today. How do inter­na­tion­al orga­ni­za­tions play a role in declin­ing sup­port for demo­c­ra­t­ic pol­i­tics in parts of Africa? And how can a reliance on donors hin­der the emer­gence of viable demo­c­ra­t­ic struc­tures? Final­ly, tune…

S08E06: Michael Wolde­mari­am on Chal­lenges Fac­ing African Democ­ra­cy (Part 1)

15. April 202440:08

This episode explores polit­i­cal and mil­i­tary con­flicts in Ethiopia and more broad­ly, in the Horn of Africa. Why has Ethiopia’s process of democ­ra­ti­za­tion erod­ed in recent years? And what is the wider impact of such demo­c­ra­t­ic back­slid­ing on African region­al pol­i­tics? Lis­ten to hear how shift­ing glob­al geopo­lit­i­cal bal­ances are…

S08E05: Vivek Maru on Legal Empow­er­ment for Communities 

13. March 202447:56

This episode explores envi­ron­men­tal jus­tice and the democ­ra­ti­za­tion of law. What does it take to turn the law into some­thing that ordi­nary peo­ple can use to pro­tect them­selves? And how can putting the pow­er of the law into the hands of the peo­ple sup­port pro­gres­sive eman­ci­pa­to­ry pol­i­tics? Lis­ten to hear…

S08E04: Olek­san­dra Matvi­ichuk on Human Rights and Ukraine 

29. Feb­ru­ary 202447:01

This episode explores human rights in rela­tion to Russia’s full-scale aggres­sion on Ukraine. How do account­abil­i­ty gaps play a role in restora­tive jus­tice? And what are effec­tive approach­es for doc­u­ment­ing loss­es and war crimes so they can be brought to court? Lis­ten for an analy­sis of the cur­rent war in…

S08E03: Dilip Gaonkar on the “Degen­er­a­tions of Democracy” 

15. Feb­ru­ary 202447:16

This episode explores con­tem­po­rary fears about the decline of democ­ra­cy. Is the cur­rent down­ward spi­ral actu­al­ly part of a rhyth­mic oscil­la­tion of democ­ra­cy? And giv­en its cen­tral­i­ty to mod­ern polit­i­cal life, can democ­ra­cy real­ly be erad­i­cat­ed? Lis­ten to hear about how the chang­ing forms of the demo­c­ra­t­ic project must be…

S08E02: Yanis Varo­ufakis on “Tech­nofeu­dal­ism”

31. Jan­u­ary 202447:06

This episode explores the con­cept of tech­nofeu­dal­ism and the role of dig­i­tal plat­forms in gov­ern­ing the lives of indi­vid­u­als. How has the cloud cre­at­ed a feed­back loop that removes agency from those who pro­duce data? And what are the effects of tech­nofeu­dal­ism on demo­c­ra­t­ic pol­i­tics? Lis­ten to con­sid­er what democratic…

S08E01: Nan­cy Fras­er on “Can­ni­bal Capitalism” 

17. Jan­u­ary 202458:47

This episode explores the pit­falls of under­stand­ing cap­i­tal­ism as a mere­ly eco­nom­ic sys­tem. How does this nar­row con­ven­tion­al view obscure dis­tinct sources of non-eco­nom­ic wealth? And what is revealed by exam­in­ing cap­i­tal­ism instead as a social order includ­ing aspects of expro­pri­a­tion, domes­tic labor and deple­tion of nature? Final­ly, why must…

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?…

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…