Call for Papers

Annual Research Workshop 2018
“Democratic participation: theoretical and empirical perspectives”
September 13-14, 2018
University of Zurich, Switzerland

Organizers: DemocracyNet and Doctoral Program Democracy Studies (DPDS, University of Zurich)

Full Call for Papers and guidelines for application and participation

Topic of the Workshop

Citizen participation is broadly understood as a constitutive element of democracy. Without people discussing public affairs and voting, representative democracies are hollowed out and decay. While some political actors and commentators lament the low political turnout in ordinary elections and the political disengagement of various groups of citizens (young people, minorities, lower classes), other ones experiment new ways to try and revive the civic flame. Innovative ideas to expand the narrow institutional frame of purely representative democracy and include more forms of political participation – such as participatory budgeting, mini-publics, political consumerism, workplace democracy, compulsory and facultative referendums, liquid democracy, town meetings, or judicial juries – have gained growing support both in academic and public discourse.

These contemporary debates on political participation raise numerous questions: What can be considered “political participation”? How should researchers approach democratic participation, both theoretically and empirically? What forms of participation are necessary for democratic systems? What is the relationship between participation and democratic decision-making? How can desirable forms of participation be promoted? Where are the limits to democratic participation? Who is excluded from political participation? The workshop aims at exploring these issues form various theoretical and empirical perspectives, both in democratic and nondemocratic contexts.

The Annual Research Workshop “Democratic participation: theoretical and empirical perspectives” provides a space for junior researchers to present and discuss their research on these and related questions from different theoretical and empirical perspectives.

Guidelines for participation

The workshop is open for PhD students and Postdocs. We encourage applications from participants from a broad range of disciplines and perspectives interested in the democracy studies in general and political participation in particular. Applications by doctoral students from within the DPDS are particularly welcome, but the workshop is open to all interested persons, including postdoctoral researchers. Each participant is invited to present her/his research project or a current research paper, which they will share with all the other participants ahead of the workshop; we particularly encourage the presentation of PhD projects.

The afternoon of the second day of the workshop will be devoted to interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary dialogues oriented towards the development and organization of research projects and transfer events. The working sessions and activities will support and encourage the establishment of useful collaborative networks.

Participants are expected to attend the whole workshop.


Please specify what you would like to present during the workshop sessions and send a short description of your research project (300-400 words abstract) and your personal details to Henri-Pierre Mottironi by June 15, 2018.
We will inform you that we have received your proposals. If you do not receive a reply from us in a week’s time, you should assume we have not (yet) received your proposal.

Costs and Grants

The workshop is free of charge. Please contact us as soon as possible if you require any grants for travel or accommodation costs.


The research workshop “Citizenship and Democracy,” organized by and the Doctoral Program Democracy Studies (DPDS), took place at the University of Zurich on September 11-12.

It enabled all 17 participants to engage in interdisciplinary academic discussions with other DPDS students, members of the association, and other researchers working in the field of democracy studies.

Three panels

The academic discussions were structured in three panels: Citizenship in (Non-)Democracies, Patterns of democratic participation, and Challenges to democracy. The 7 papers presented offered a variety of approaches and focused on different issues regarding citizenship and democracy. Each speaker received detailed and constructive feedback from their discussants and from all the participants to the workshop, who engaged in insightful discussions.

Working sessions

Next to the panels, all participants were invited to adopt an active role and to start thinking about projects and collaborations they would like to develop with or without the association The working sessions aimed at fostering collaboration and team-work among researchers by exchanging ideas, creating a network of researchers in the field, and sharing knowledge. The second working session was specifically devoted to developing new projects.


Hans Asenbaum (University of Westminster, London), Palmo Brunner (University of Zurich), Alice el-Wakil (University of Zurich, ZDA), Lea Heyne (University of Zurich, ZDA), Deborah Kalte (ZDA), Matteo Laruffa (LUISS Guido Carli University, Rome), Spencer McKay (University of British Columbia, Vancouver), Henri-Pierre Mottironi (University of Lausanne), Masakazu Ogami (University of Zurich), Koray Özdil (University of Zurich), Sarah Perry (University of Mannheim), Lukas Peter (University of Zurich), Marco Radojevic (University of Zurich), Martha Sandoval (University of Zurich, ZDA), Michael Strebel (University of Zurich), Jinyu Sun (University College London), Rebecca Welge (University of Zurich)

Full report, with abstracts of the presentations


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.

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