Democracy and digitalisation

Research Group 12

Developing a better understanding of the reciprocal interplay between digitalisation and democratic self-governance is the aim of this research group. Therefore, we ask how liberal societies form and make use of digital technologies, as well as how democracies are shaped by digitalisation. The group focuses on three central areas of interest: the adaptation of legal and regulatory systems, the shifts in political participation, and the transformation of the public sphere. With regard to the area of rights and the development of legal mechanisms, we assess the transformation processes of fundamental democratic rights – like privacy or the right to assemble. In that context, we assess the necessity of novel means of legal protection in order to cope with emerging menaces of surveillance. The theoretical focus of the second research area is the question of how individual and collective capacities to political actions are transformed due to digitalisation. We mainly analyse and evaluate medium to long term change that affect political institutions as well as societal capacities to act politically. Whether and how the nation state still constitutes an adequate vessel to institute democracy is of special interest. The third research area focuses on the transformation of the public sphere(s). Here, we dissect the role of algorithmic sorting and private platforms, and their impact on democratic will formation. We ask in how far democracies are and should be able to ‘setup’ their own publics. Each of the projects undertaken in this research group combines normative democratic theory and empirical research on digital transformation.