The Weizenbaum Institute for the Networked Society is organizing its 2020 annual conference on the subject of “Democracy in Flux – Order, Dynamics and Voices in Digital Public Spheres” and invites interested scholars to submit abstracts and papers for presentation on Thursday, 4 June and Friday, 5 June 2020 at the Urania in Berlin.
The spread of digital technologies has contributed to a multi-faceted change of democratic orders, actors, and practices. At the intersection of long-term evolution of democracies and the emergence of social media, we observe a profound redistribution of communication and political power. Traditional mass media are losing their privileged position as gatekeepers of the public sphere; social media are establishing new norms of social relevance and simultaneously give voice to ideas, opinions, and actors, which used to be marginalized. This development seems full of ambivalences. Thus, the changing conditions of communication have spawned a situation of democracy in a state of permanent flux.
The debate on how digital technologies have changed public spheres and impacted democracy has been scattered across different scientific disciplines, political arenas, and civil society. The 2020 Annual Weizenbaum Conference aims to bring together these various perspectives and seeks to initiate an interdisciplinary exchange on the linkages between digital public spheres and democracy.