In recent years, European liberal democracies have increasingly come under strain. The rise of anti-establishment and sometimes openly anti-democratic politicians and parties (Pappas, 2016) and other trends have sparked concerns about the progress of societies: An increasing polarization and radicalization of publics and political discourse (Benkler, Faris, & Roberts, 2018), the advent of alternative, hyperpartisan media hosting disinformation campaigns, fostering antagonism, and propagating authoritarian ideas (Arif, Stewart, & Starbird, 2018; Sanovich, 2018) as well as an apparent shift towards authoritarian values among citizens (Foa & Mounk, 2016, 2017) have left observers and publics across Europe alike worrying about how Europe’s liberal democracies can cope with the threat these developments may pose to liberal democracy.
From a normative point of view, the electoral success of (right-wing) populist parties critical of liberal democracy, the political and social division of publics as well as their radicalization, the spread of untrustworthy and misleading content online, and the turning away from core democratic values are clearly undesirable and alarming. However, while lively academic discussions as well as public debates have revolved around the causes of these phenomena, little research has been conducted regarding their consequences. Do they actually pose a serious threat to democracy? Do authoritarian challenges endanger the stability and functioning of European democracies?
To answer these questions, we invite papers addressing one or more of the following themes:
We want to further an interdisciplinary exchange on these complex themes and invite papers from all social-science disciplines. We are open to all methodological approaches but particularly welcome comparative cross-sectional and longitudinal studies that help understand how authoritarian trends affect European liberal democracies both on the system and the citizen level.
Please submit an extended abstract of about 600 words and a summary of no more than 150 words to eurolab(at)gesis(dot)org until April 30, 2019. Your abstract should include information about the theoretical framework, data, methods, and expected results. Prospective contributors will be contacted in May 2019 with more detailed information. A first draft of the full manuscript will be due in October 2019 and will be presented and discussed at the two-day authors’ conference in Cologne on November 21 and 22, 2019. Selected papers will be published in either a special issue or an edited volume. The organizers are in the process of acquiring funds for covering travelling and accommodation costs.