While we are currently recording the second season of our Democracy in Question podcast, the Research Group on Soft Authoritarianisms, our partner at Bremen University, initiated a blog series with commentaries on podcast episodes, that contribute to the debate on growing authoritarian tendencies around the world by analyzing various facets of soft authoritarianism.
By commenting on themes raised in our Democracy in Question episodes, these posts will offer a cross-disciplinary dialogue, addressing various forms of challenges to liberal democracy and of active citizen engagement to protect and deepen democratic institutions in the face of the current backlash.
In the first blog post in the series to comment on the podcasts, Jens Adam, who is part of the Excellence Chair Research Group Soft Authoritarianisms, reflects on the notions of Civil Society and Horizontal Democracy, raised by Mary Kaldor in Democracy in Question’s Episode 10. Drawing on examples from Poland, Belarus and Ukraine, Jens Adam revisits Kaldor’s concepts and examines how civil society becomes a battleground for authoritarian attempts.
The Democracy in Question podcast series is a collaboration by the Institute for Human Sciences (IWM) Vienna and the Graduate Institute’s Albert Hirschman Centre on Democracy, in cooperation with the Research Group: Soft Authoritarianism, University of Bremen.
Hosted by Shalini Randeria, our rector, the podcast features some of the most important voices in contemporary academia. Continuing from season 1, each episode of our podcast seeks to answer a specific question about democratic experiences and experiments the world over. Together with her renowned guests Shalini Randeria explores whether the current crisis of democracy represents a historically unique challenge or whether parallels to political crises in the past can be discerned. While each episode addresses issues concerning the contemporary challenges to democracy in different contexts, the series is also committed to exploring themes in the longue durée of democracy that have occupied social scientists for decades.
For the upcoming season 2 of Democracy in Question Jens Adam is going to continue his commentary, offering reflections on each podcast episode on the Soft Authoritarianisms Research Group’s blog and available from the podcast show notes.