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Democracy in the 21st Century


shutterstock Democ_652569493-[Converted]Today the meaning of democracy – always a contested concept – and the broad public identification with its values and practices are being challenged in profound ways. New economic disparities, pressures to circumscribe certain rights, and unprecedented tension between democratic representation and technocratic governance, where elites pursue economic and functional imperatives, are weakening democracy’s societal roots. At the same time, various forms of illiberal democracy or authoritarianism induce many to think that they can perform better than classic liberal democracies. With new technologies reshaping the dynamics of political persuasion to emphasise individual empowerment and mobilisation, political life is becoming privatised.

In response to these challenges, we propose an interdisciplinary inquiry on the making and conditions of democracy. We believe that only a multi-disciplinary assessment, one which considers how democracy was understood in the past and developed over time, can provide the insights that society needs to re-build the legitimacy of democratic representation, the credibility of political institutions, and the social contract that underpins its sustainability.


Group members



ANGHEL Veronica
Veronica Anghel


BAKO Beata
Beáta Bakó

Aline Bertolin
Conor Casey 
Adélie Chevée


CONG Wanshu
Wanshu Cong

DIESSNER Sebastian
Sebastian Diessner 
Alice HubbardAlice Hubbard 
(STG Policy Fellow)
MILANI Tommaso
Tommaso Milani 
MUESER Benjamin
Benjamin Mueser
ONODA Takuya
Takuya Onoda
Marius Ostrowski 

Ph.D. researchers


Rouven Symank







Cluster activities 2020

30 November 2020
5-7 pm

Seminar on "Freedom of Speech"

9 November 2020
5-7pm, via Zoom

Seminar on "The 2020 Election and the Crisis of US Democracy"

19 October 2020
5-7 pm
Hybrid Event (Sala degli Stemmi and Zoom)

Democracy cluster internal meeting

12 October 2020
5-7 pm
Hybrid Event (Sala degli Stemmi and Zoom)

Seminar on "Covid-19 and the threat to democracy"
Speakers: Kalypso Nicolaïdis (EUI and University of Oxford) and Adam Przeworski (New York University)


23 September 2020
4-6 pm
Hybrid Event (Sala degli Stemmi and Zoom)


Introductory meeting with Max Weber Fellows

Page last updated on 23 October 2020