Developing a better understanding of the interplay between digitalisation and democratic self-governance was the aim of this research group. We examined how liberal societies form and make use of digital technologies, as well as how democracies are shaped by digitalisation. The research focused on three areas of interest: political participation, the digital transformation of the democratic public sphere and the reconfiguration of rule in the digital constellation (law and domination).
This research group conducted research at the Weizenbaum Institute from 2017 to 2022. In the newly launched research program, research will henceforth be organised in 16 research groups. These will be flanked and supported by the new Weizenbaum Digital Science Center.
The research group analysed the interplay between digitalisation and democratic self-governance. We examined how liberal societies form and make use of digital technologies, as well as how democracies are shaped by digitalisation.
In the area of ‘Political Participation’, we asked how individual and collective potentials to act politically are transformed and how this change is to be assessed in terms of democratic theory. For example, we examined how the conditions for political action change in relation to the governmental regulatory framework or the possibilities of extra-parliamentary forms of organization and intervention.
In the area ‘Transformation of public sphere(s)’, we dissected the role of datafication and algorithmic sorting of information and its dissemination in the context of privately organized, global platforms. On this basis, we examined to what extent and by which means democracies can setup ‘their’ publics.
The third area of interest was the reconfiguration of rule in the digital constellation. Our research on ‘Law and domination’ examined e.g. to which extent fundamental democratic rights – like privacy or the right to assemble – are subject to a conceptual change in response to digitalization. In the light of new and emerging threats of infringement and violations, we further analyzed if and how the scope of protection of fundamental rights needs to be redefined.
Each of the projects undertaken in this research group combined normative democratic theory and empirical research on digital transformation.
Communication formats of the research group
To the current research program