Event Series 2015-2016


Democracy: Bridging Facts and Norms

Logo_Facts_convertedIs a government legitimate if citizens are fairly satisfied with their democracy despite very few possibilities to participate, to candidate in elections, or to exercise individual fundamental rights, as is the case in Russia? How democratic is a country with a constitutional law adopted through a popular vote that bans minarets, and thus limits the religious freedom of some minorities, as is the case in Switzerland? Is a vote legitimate when the turnout rate is relatively low, so that the majority that wins the vote represents merely a fraction of the population? Would more social justice, for example instituted by a form of guaranteed basic income, improve democracy?

The event series Democracy: Bridging Facts and Norms aims at offering a space for young researchers in democracy studies and for the wider public to reflect about these issues by thinking about the relation between democratic ideals and practices more in-depth.

Thanks to the generous support of the UZH Graduate Campus, we are able to organise four public talks and two academic workshop during the academic year 2015-2016.

Starting from the observation that, while democracy is actually studied with a wide variety of approaches, the Logo_Norms_convertedvarious discourses on democracy offered by these disciplines appear to be drifting apart, we hope to provide young researchers studying democracy with a space for interdisciplinary academic discussion. Our ambition is to make it possible to find a common language in order to exchange knowledge on democracy, a necessary step in order to further develop research and guidelines for its practical implementation. The two academic workshops thus have the common, overarching objective to investigate the relationship between empirical research on democracy and philosophical debates about its norms and ideals.

Furthermore, we want to make academic debates accessible to a wider audience by organising public presentations and discussions focused on current academic and political issues. Four public events aim at creating a dialogue between experts in democracy research, political actors and practitioners, and the broader public. They also constitute opportunities for scholars to question their role and responsibilities with regard to the functioning and legitimizing of certain “real-existing” democracies.

Besides, all interest in these issues can find more information in the form of original podcasts, articles or news we have gathered on the “Dialogue” page of this website.

Project leaders: Alice el-Wakil, Lea Heyne and Lukas Peter.


Public Events Academic Workshops
Opening event (in German): Podiumsdiskussion “Grenzen der Demokratie? Spannungsverhältnisse zwischen Idealen und Realisierung
Speakers: Daniele Caramani (UZH), Francis Cheneval (UZH), Rosmarie Quadranti (BDP), Rudolf Strahm (SP)
Moderator: Daniel Binswanger (Das Magazin)
November 18, 2015, University of Zurich Main Building, Rämistrasse 71. Room KOL-G-201 (Aula).

Public lecture and discussion: “Justice, democracy and the unconditional basic income”
Speaker: Philippe Van Parijs (Université Catholique de Louvain)
Discussant: Reiner Eichenberger (Université de Fribourg)
Moderator: Philipp Löpfe (Watson)
February 18, 2016, University of Zurich Main Building, Rämistrasse 71. Room KOH-B-10.

Graduate workshop “Justice and Democracy: Assessing Political Legitimacy”
With Prof. Philippe Van Parijs

February 18-19, 2016, University of Zurich.

Public lecture and discussion: “Democracy and Capitalism – Or Economic Democracy?”
Speaker: Alex Demirovic (Goethe Universität Frankfurt)
Discussant: Andreas Scherer (University of Zurich)
Moderator: Vanessa Rampton (ETH Zurich)
June 9, 2016, University of Zurich Main Building, Rämistrasse 71. Room KOL-G-201 (Aula).
 Graduate workshop “Contextualizing Democracy: Culture, Capitalism, Inequalities”
With Prof. Alex Demirovic
June 9-10, 2016, University of Zurich
Final public event (in German): Podiumsdiskussion
Elfenbeinturm oder Arena? Die Rolle der Wissenschaft in der Demokratie
Speakers: Katja Gentinetta, Michael Hermann, Svenja Goltermann, and Thomas Widmer
Moderator: Peer Teuwsen
October 20, 2016, University of Zurich Main Building, Rämistrasse 71. Room KOH-B-10.


Current news related to this event series will be posted on our mailinglist.
contact us if you would like to learn more about the project.


 Posted by Alice El-Wakil on 12. August 2015

  10 Responses to “Event Series 2015-2016”

  1. […] Rahmen der Veranstaltungsreihe «Democracy: Bridging facts and norms» findet am Donnerstag, 18. Februar 2016 an der Universität Zürich ein öffentliches […]