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.