Wippermann Lecture: E-Democracy and inequalities after the pandemic

Dienstag, 17. Mai 2022 um 18:00 Uhr

Guest lectures within the framework of the Wippermann Fellowships project.

Where? Raum 007 / Forum, Uni Hildesheim

When? from 6 pm

Speaker? Emiliana De Blasio (LUISS University; Rome, Italy)  / Gastdozentin an der Universität Hildesheim im Rahmen des Wippermann Fellowships 2022

Info: The pandemic has highlighted and made more dramatic the dynamics of exclusion of vulnerable people, especially those living in liminal spaces. Social inequalities are proven to have mediated the impact of the pandemic in many respects, such as health (exposure to the contagion and possibilities to access medical care), education, work stability and work-life balance, households’ income and access to digital tools. It is no coincidence that, in many cases, the pandemic has also shown itself to be a syndemic, a crisis that causes many more crises and exacerbates problems that were already present. In particular, one of such long-standing problems is that of the alleged “crisis of democracy”. Prior to the pandemic, many have already addressed this issue, trying to develop solutions. Among the most promising solutions, the tools of e-democracy - and, more generally, digital tools - could play a very important role in raising citizens' awareness and developing truly democratic participatory dynamics. E-democracy describes two interrelated phenomena: a soft definition of e-democracy addresses the potentiality of participatory dynamics occurring in online spaces or in hybrid formats (thus including spontaneous processes across social media platforms); a hard definition of e-democracy considers it as a systemic change in the institutions of representative democracy, leaving space for democratic innovations (top-down or institutional by design) and extended dialogical practices among citizens and social actors at large (bottom-up). This, however, did not happen or happened with considerable difficulty, due to a combination of key factors, among which the unreadiness of institutions, political and ideological resistance, but also the digital divides of the population. As the pandemic has built a context of “forced digitalisation”, the importance of focusing on the democratic challenges of digital tools has increased. And yet, institutions that are currently planning the recovery are not concentrating their efforts in enhancing none of the two forms of e-democracy. It is commonsense to state that the pandemic also represents an opportunity to change, but given this renovated resistance towards e-democracy, some questions arise. Is this a structural weakness of digital participation? Or does it only show such weaknesses in the absence of hybrid deliberative-participatory processes? And what potential do e-Democracy and digital participation still have for increasing the dimension of citizenship - especially in times of crisis?

More info: The contact person for questions about the Wippermann Lecture on 17 May 2022 is Prof. Dr. Wolf Schünemann.