Research workshop “Citizenship and Democracy”
September 11-12, 2017
University of Zurich, Switzerland

Organizers: and Doctoral Program Democracy Studies (NCCR Democracy)

The objective of this research workshop is twofold. First, we aim at fostering interdisciplinary academic discussions between DPDS students, members of the network, and other junior researchers interested in the study of citizenship and democracy. Each participant to the workshop will have the opportunity to present a research project or a working paper, and receive feedback from other scholars on their current research. Second, we aim at fostering collaboration and team-work among researchers by exchanging ideas, creating a network of researchers in the field, and sharing knowledge to initiate new projects. The second day will be devoted to developing new projects.

Program overview:

Monday, 11 September (Room AFL-E003)
09:30-10:00 Opening: Welcoming the Participants and presentation of
10:15-12:15 Panel I: Citizenship in (Non-)Democracies
12:15-13:30 Lunch
13:30-15:00 Panel II: Patterns of democratic participation
15:00-15:30 Presentation of past, present and possible projects
15:45-18:00 Workshop Session I: project mapping

Tuesday, 12 September (Room AFL-003)
10:00-12:00 Panel III: Challenges to democracy
12:00-13:30 Lunch
13:30-16:00 Working Session II: project mapping
16:15-17:00 Evaluation and closing of the workshop

Full program here

If you wish to attend the workshop, please register by sending an email to by September 6, 2017.


University of Zurich, June 9-10, 2016

Democratic ideals and norms need to be substantially defined, interpreted, and adapted to actual contexts. Compromises between different actors, and between ideals and practices thus become necessary. This highlights the importance of context for democratic politics: Democracy is always bound to specific cultures, forms of economic organization, and power structures. This observation raises diverse and interrelated questions: Are there contexts in which democratic ideals cannot be realized? Does the realization of democracy require specific shared cultural values? To what extent do democratic norms of self-governance conflict with other norms and ways of life in real-existing democracies? Is a certain level of wealth required for democracy to function? If so, is it only achievable through a capitalist economy, or does capitalist economic freedom conflict with democratic freedom? What is the relationship between economic and political (in)equality? How much inequality can a democratic society bear? Can democracies cope with the challenges created by non-democratic norms, economic globalization, and growing inequalities – and how?

These questions, far from being settled, have important implications for real-existing democracies and processes of democratization. Our assumption is that appropriate answers should rely both on the most recent developments in social sciences and in normative political theory. The aim of this interdisciplinary workshop is thus to bridge the gap between democratic ideals and practices by enhancing the dialogue between political theory and empirical political science. The workshop is the third event in the series “Democracy: Bridging Facts and Norms,” which is jointly organized by Zurich-based theoretical and empirical junior researchers in democracy studies from the network, engaged in the NCCR Democracy and the Centre for Democracy Studies Aarau.

Call for Papers

During this two-day workshop, young researchers will present and discuss their work in three different panels. All presenters will benefit from the feedback of the international expert Prof. Alex Demirović (Goethe-Universität Frankfurt), and of advanced scholars from the University of Zurich (Prof. Silja Häusermann, Prof. Urs Marti, and Prof. Stefanie Walter). Active participation from all the participants is expected. A public keynote speech by Prof. Demirović on capitalism and democracy will complement the academic panels.

For this workshop, we invite junior scholars (PhDs and Postdocs) to present their work on the relationship between democracy and (a) cultural norms, (b) capitalism or other forms of economic organization, and (c) globalization and socioeconomic inequalities. Both theoretical and empirical papers, either qualitative or quantitative, can be submitted. Furthermore, in order to discuss different approaches to democracy studies, we invite researchers from any discipline relevant to the topic, including but not exclusively, political science, philosophy, law, sociology, and economy, to send in their abstracts.

Abstracts of 300 to 500 words should be submitted to by the 15th of March, 2016. Accepted presenters will be notified by the 31st of March, 2016.


University of Zurich, February 18-19, 2016

The workshop “Justice and Democracy: Assessing Political Legitimacy is the first academic workshop of the event series “Democracy: Bridging Facts and Norms”. It will focus on the tension between democracy and justice, which culminates in the question of democratic legitimacy.

This central topic of investigation in empirical and philosophical political studies on democracy highlight questions such as the following: Is 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?

Far from being settled, these questions have important implications for real-existing democracies and processes of democratization. Substantial arguments should consider both the most recent developments in social science and in normative political theory. This interdisciplinary workshop thus aims at bridging the gap between democratic ideals and practices and enhancing the dialogue between political theory and empirical social science in order to gain critical insights and to provide better guidelines for political action.

Call for Paper

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