DEMOCRACY IN CRISIS . . . DEMOCRACY IN PERIL?
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JUNE 17–19, 2021
Submission Deadline Extended: May 9, 2021
Thirty years ago, after the collapse of European communism as a system of power, hopes were high that an era of democracy would ensue the likes of which had never been seen. In many regards, this hope was justified. Within the context of globalization and neoliberalism, levels of economic wealth in many countries and around the world reached unprecedented heights, accompanied by an explosion of technological innovations. Starting in the mid-1990s, more people lived in societies with formally democratic political systems for the first time. Yet, already at that time, this indicator of quantitative expansion went hand in hand with concerns of a growing qualitative deficit: that the process of democratization was beginning to go into reverse, and that quantitative success neither did translate into, nor was consonant with the further development of democratic institutions, levels of participation and representation, and constructive communication between elected officials and voters. Today, those early concerns are proving to have been justified: democracy is on the defensive, right-wing movements, parties and politicians are proliferating and increasingly success, support of democratic institutions is weakening, and the idea of solidarity across an array of differences appears to be under attack (if the concept itself retains any meaning and relevance to begin with). Furthermore, the ability to place oneself into the circumstances of others seems to give way, paradoxically, to a sort of structural selfishness that is incongruous with the notion and standards of democracy, not to mention the capacity and inclination to engage in critical self-reflexivity. Under these conditions, which have been aggravated and accelerated further by the global pandemic, the purpose of the conference is to bring together rigorous disciplinary and innovative inter-, trans- and multidisciplinary theoretical perspectives and approaches, to examine, scrutinize and reflect upon well-established notions and currently prevailing assumptions about the historical foundations, impending success, overall desirability, functional adequacy and categorical suppositions regarding democracy in the 21st century.
NOTE: As usual, all submissions that fall into the general area of social theory will be considered, and papers are not required have to address directly democracy, or the theme of democracy in crisis, although abstracts that will address or touch upon this nexus of issues from any angle will be welcomed.