Entering into Conversation about the Sound of Democracy

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 chang­ing and what do we expect to hear when we lis­ten? These are easy ques­tions to ask. And if we tru­ly care about how democ­ra­cy sounds, then we should ask even a broad­er ques­tion: How does which democ­ra­cy sound like today, for whom, and where? We assume that democ­ra­cy has dif­fer­ent sounds in dis­tinc­tive places, for var­i­ous peo­ple with diverse belong­ings and expe­ri­ences. To stay in the pic­ture of sound: Democ­ra­cy in par­tic­u­lar is not a repeat­able per­for­mance to which we lis­ten in sim­i­lar ways, but a poly­phon­ic and asyn­chro­nous hap­pen­ing of sounds that are con­stant­ly shift­ing. This seems to be just the oppo­site of “easy listening”.

How we hear and what we hear says some­thing about the soci­ety and polit­i­cal order that sur­round us and of which we are part. But what’s more, it says just as much about our­selves and our posi­tions in soci­ety. In this respect, lis­ten­ing is a per­for­ma­tive act in which we par­tic­i­pate in shap­ing what we hear and want to hear.

Democ­ra­cy in par­tic­u­lar is not a repeat­able per­for­mance to which we lis­ten in sim­i­lar ways, but a poly­phon­ic and asyn­chro­nous hap­pen­ing of sounds that are con­stant­ly shifting.

Sound of Democ­ra­cy is a Euro­pean project that aims to stim­u­late polit­i­cal dis­cus­sion about sound. Along­side a pod­cast and this blog, we also want to engage in con­ver­sa­tions that we plan as inter­views and con­duct as accom­pa­ny­ing research. Sound of Democ­ra­cy is a metaphor that is intend­ed to stim­u­late a dia­logue about con­tem­po­rary democ­ra­cies. If we were to say what democ­ra­cy means to us today, we might not real­ly know how to answer, giv­en the com­plex­i­ty of the sub­ject and the ques­tion. A metaphor, how­ev­er, is invit­ing and allows us to start a talk with each oth­er with­out jump­ing to hasty con­clu­sions. That is what we think. To us, the metaphor of sound is a bridge in con­ver­sa­tions about democ­ra­cy today.

In Sound of Democ­ra­cy we will be con­duct­ing a small pilot study and some inter­views about how democ­ra­cy sounds in Ukraine, Poland, Swe­den, Ger­many, France, and Italy. We will give you insights into dif­fer­ent sound­scapes of democ­ra­cy. They will be nei­ther rep­re­sen­ta­tive nor inter­sub­jec­tive. They will doc­u­ment what peo­ple in Europe hear and report when they start think­ing about the Sound of Democ­ra­cy. We invite you to fol­low where our plans take us, here in our blog.

About

Hagen Steinhauer

Doctoral Researcher at the University of Bremen

Christian Bär
Ingo H. Warnke