The Rethinking Democracy research platform (REDEM) is a shared space for discussing questions around democracy. We consider broad issues such as what democracy actually is, how it should work, and criteria for a functioning democracy. Alongside this, we consider how democracy functions beyond formal political settings, and in other spheres of social life.
Want to join?
The Rethinking Democracy research platform is open to all researchers at Malmö University and our external stakeholders who are broadly interested in theories and practices of democracy and its discontents.
Do you want to receive news on seminars and events organized by the platform? Or perhaps you have a paper you want to present? A seminar you would like to organize or a guest speaker you would like to invite? Do not hesitate to contact us through firstname.lastname@example.org.
We live in a time of democratic paradoxes. A number of democratically elected leaders in the world are challenging basic democratic norms and institutions, and subverting the language of democracy to legitimise their actions. Younger generations are less likely to vote, yet often engage with political issues more than older generations.
Corporations have gained greater rights to counter public interest regulations, but we also see new forms of consumer participation and shareholder activism. Democracy is traditionally tied to the nation state, but issues seem to increasingly require transnational and/or local action. Political parties gain votes on the basis of being ‘nationalistic’, but many of their policies impact those who are not included within the nation-state’s boundaries.
REDEM combines the disciplines of political science, history of ideas, cultural studies, media studies, linguistic studies, communication for development and urban studies. From these respective backgrounds we address questions related to the multiple crises currently facing liberal and electoral democracy, the history and future of democracy and possible ways of rethinking democratic institutions, and civic engagement in the face of growing movements of authoritarian populism.
External evaluators rate REDEM as 'Excellent'
REDEM was originally established as a faculty-level platform where its output in terms of research, teaching impact, and societal engagement was reviewed by an external committee.
Some of the things the reviewers said
'The work of REDEM is original, multidisciplinary and international as evidenced through numerous partnerships and research collaborations. REDEM represents a truly multidisciplinary effort combining disciplines across the Social Sciences and Humanities to address some of the most urgent issues of our times. REDEM is a vibrant hub for events (seminars and conferences) as well as a series of research projects that address an original research agenda. In sum, REDEM fulfils the criteria set out by the University at an excellent level. I thus recommend the continuation of the REDEM work.'
'Given the backlash against and challenges to democracy which democratic societies around the world have experienced in the past years, I could hardly think of research topics in the social sciences that are more pressing than “democracy research”. In addition, the need to “rethink democracy” becomes obvious in view of the macro-transformations societies are witnessing (globalization incl. global migration, digitalization, climate change, global power shifts, plus a pandemic on top). Concentrating resources at Malmö University to bring together researchers and teachers to reflect upon the challenges associated with “rethinking democracy” therefore seems useful.' (Evaluation of the Research Platform REDEM, 2021)
Following a competitive call open to all PhDs at the Department of Global Political Studies, REDEM supported a series of international workshops with both local and international speakers. One included collaborating with the Gender Studies Research Group at MaU.
Isobel Squire - workshop 26 May 2023: How is illiberal democracy navigating gender politics? Moving from backlash to pragmatics in Poland.
With Weronika Grzebalska, Assistant Professor in Sociology, Institute of Political Studies, Polish Academy of Sciences. Weronika Grzebalska built upon her work on the surprising gender politics in the defence sector in Poland under populist right-wing governance. Her presentation discussed the shortcomings of the mainstream ‘backlash’ and ‘anti-gender’ literature, and alternative frameworks for addressing illiberal gender politics.
Sarah Bodelson - workshop 8 May 2023.: Thinking through reproductive justice in times of democratic backsliding.
Co-organised with the Gender Studies Research Group at Malmö University. With Soledad Quintana Fernández, a midwife working with abortions and Nada Amroussia, a doctoral student at the Faculty of Health and Society whose research project is titled ”Sexual and reproductive health equity from Policy to Practice: experiences of healthcare providers and migrant youth in Southern Sweden”.
With Petra Müllerová, Lund University. The seminar-workshop created a space to explore blockchain within health care to engage with the questions: Can dominant blockchain technologies (Proof-of-burn, Practical Byzantine fault tolerance, Proof-of-stake, Proof-of-work) offer safe and secure access to health information sharing via mobile platforms? How might these interactions reproduce known vulnerabilities within the healthcare system and education on the individual’s health care? A paper on the resulting discussion will be submitted for publication.
Global Politics as a Tool for rethinking democracy
Participatory workshop at Storm, Malmö University, 25 April 2023.
Over a third of the Department of Global Political Studies gathered to develop new ways of thinking about democracy. Colleagues present described it as having given them 'the best conversations with one another in 25 years of working' at Malmö University.
Facilitated by Michael Strange, the session asked the related questions: What was your past view of the future of democracy? What is your present view of the future of democracy?
The Pandemocracy Conference – program and links
The conference in September 2021 explored the challenge and opportunities the pandemic created for democracy, with a special focus on everyday democratic engagement, conviviality, local politics, activism and communication for social change.
Wednesday 15 September
Intro and welcome
With Professor Rebecka Lettevall, Dean of the Faculty of Culture and Society
“I trust in no one!” Exploring vaccination hesitancy as everyday politics. Author: Mia-Marie Hammarlin, Lund University, Sweden
Mis/Dis-Information and Webinars about Syria During the Covid-19 Pandemic. Author: Josepha Wessels, K3, Malmö University, Sweden
Pandemocracy And The Politics Of Fear: Beyond The State Of Exception. Authors: Dan Degerman (Department of Philosophy University of Bristol), Matthew Johnson (Department of Politics, Philosophy and Religion, Lancaster University) and Matthew Flinders (Department of Politics and Sir Bernard Crick Centre University of Sheffield)
2. The pandemic’s role in reconfiguring power relations
Chair: Maria Brock, K3, Malmö University
A Convivial Turn: Reimagining Democracy and Global Governance in the Post-Pandemic World. Author: Sungjoon Cho, Professor of Law, IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law
The Democratic Paradox of the Israeli COVID-19 Regulations. Author: Sharon Yadin, University of Haifa, Israel
Putin, Parade, Plebiscite, Pandemic: Legitimation strategies and dilemmas in Russia’s first year of Covid-19. Authors: Bo Petersson, Malmö University and Matthew Blackburn, Uppsala University
3. Populism and the pandemic
Chair: Anders Hellström, GPS, Malmö University
Populism and COVID-19: How Populist Governments (Mis)Handle the Pandemic. Authors: Michael Bayerlein, Kiel Institute for the World Economy; Christian-Albrechts-University of Kiel; Vanessa A. Boesex, Varieties of Democracy (V-Dem) Institute, University of Gothenburg; Scott Gates (Peace Research Institute Oslo (PRIO), University of Oslo; Katrin Kaminy, Kiel Institute for the World Economy; Christian-Albrechts-University of Kiel, Syed Mansoob Murshedk, Centre for Financial and Corporate Integrity (CFCI), Coventry University
Populist communication in pandemic times: How populist presidents in Latin America performed during the COVID-19 crisis. Authors: Aline Burni, German Development Institute and Eduardo Ryo Tamaki, Federal University of Minas Gerais
The political uses of the covid pandemic in the rise of Greek authoritarianism. Authors: Filippa Chatzistavrou and Konstantinos Papanikolaou (Department of Political Science and Public Administration, National and Kapodistrian University of Athens)
AI + Democracy reading group
AI + Democracy reading group
Collaborating with PHED, REDEM brings social science tools to AI research. This includes a reading group which has already met 20 times to share ideas and debate around some of the most exciting literature in the field. There have been events focused on participation and AI with a mix of academics, industry, civil society, and government.
REDEM's task is to foster well-informed and critical discussions around the past, present, and future of democracy as a political form for public decision-making. Take part in our public video archive.
The REDEM platform brings together scholars from different disciplines across the Faculty of Culture and Society and invites colleagues from other faculties interested in using the platform as a vehicle for advancing their research.
Our research projects focus on electoral politics; citizenship and the demos; local decision-making processes; social movements; civic engagement and everyday democracy; violent extremism and anti-democratic movements; journalism and democracy; politics of artificial intelligence; health equity; participatory art; and new publics.