Bayerischer Forschungsverbund “Zukunft der Demokratie” (ForDemocracy)

Science and democracy

The starting point of the research association is the diagnosis of crises as well as the observation that currently democracy faces existential challenges. For those contributing to the association these challenges are not only the subjects of their research activities. Rather, they also concern the framework conditions of their scientific work, their roles outside the sciences, as citizens, pedagogues, activists, as mothers and fathers. Both this constellation and the specific research design of the association, which intends a close cooperation with civil society actors, suggest self-reflection on the role of the sciences and of scientists in democracy and the field of democracy research as the association’s basic issue.

The scientists cooperating within the association pursue different concepts of democracy and have different ideas of which fields of society should, in which ways and to which extent, be democratically organized. They will hardly produce common results or recommendations. However, such a reflection is supposed to make the different assumptions more distinctive and to develop positions concerning the question of the responsibility of scientists and the sciences as well as of assessments of scientific crisis intervention. At the same time this way of self-reflection, which also covers methodological proceedings, is important for the transformative research design characterising the association and also in details in part of its projects. A Part of this is the debate on the concepts of transdisciplinarity, transformative research and participative research as well as achieving a common understanding of the value these concepts are supposed to have for the work of the association and for its sub-projects.

Thus, one aspect of reflectivity supposed to be practiced in the context of the association is, among others, a critical debate on the way in which scientists understand themselves, who are, as already mentioned, both experts and, outside the sciences, citizens and members of society and must relate these roles to each other for their encounter with other individuals.