Challenges to democracy and the public sphere

Our interdisciplinary research develops a deeper understanding of and solutions to the challenges facing democracy in local and global public spaces.

Challenges to Democracy and the Public Sphere (CHADS) is a platform that brings together research in the School of Social Sciences and Humanities, which tackles the challenges to democracy locally and globally. Combining insights from different Social Sciences and Humanities, CHADS aims to develop innovative solutions, which can enrich the public space with partners from academia and the policy world.

Democratic backsliding is a significant challenge in the emerging global (dis)order. The rise of authoritarianism has been encouraged by new populist forces, polarisation, and illiberal politics. While traditional media sources have had to adapt to new realities generated by social media, including misinformation, political communication continues to be a key focus for actors across the political spectrum. Although some national and transnational social movements contribute to democratic backsliding, new social movements are emerging and developing novel resistance methods. Global processes such as climate change and geopolitical volatility complicate the questions that democracies face today and tomorrow.

CHADS is the home of interdisciplinary, exciting, and solution-oriented research that aligns with the University's strategic aim of supporting vibrant and inclusive communities by addressing challenges to democracy. Our research contributes towards the realisation of Sustainable Development Goals including SDG 16 Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions and SDG 5 Gender Equality.

For more information contact Dr Ali Bilgic

Research highlight: Power to the People

Unelected lobby groups play an important role in liberal democratic states, including the UK. Dr Parvin’s work analyses how social and political change have affected the role of lobbyists and their practice. He has highlighted that changing patterns of citizen participation have increased the centrality of lobby groups and changed their internal structure – becoming less reliant on activist members and reorganising themselves as professionalised, hierarchical interest groups. His work also explores the impact of economic inequality on the representation of marginalised groups by lobbying organisations, and the implications of unequal representation and political activity for democratic equality, inclusion, and decision making.

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