Democracy under Pressure: Cleavages and Contestations

Public Event & Expert Workshop

German Academy New York | December 11-12, 2018


The America-First doctrine, Brexit, and the rise of right-wing (populist) parties in Europe might only be a harbinger of the new challenges which Western democratic systems of representation and conflict resolution will have to face in the years to come. Liberal democracy has come under severe pressure in the Americas and in Europe due to major changes in the structures of our societies that are increasingly shaped by economic inequality as well as social and cultural diversity.

Against this background, the social sciences need to contribute to debates on democratic politics and social cohesion by providing insights into the (relationship between) social and cultural cleavages and political mobilization and contestation: How do individuals cope with inequalities and diversity? To which extent do emotions, questions of identity and deeply held values result in political mobilization and contestation? What role do classical and social media play in pre-structuring the information and “facts” that individuals rely on in making up their minds and how are conflicting interests addressed in political debates? Whose interests are voiced and silenced?

BIGSSS invites guests from academia and civil society and from both sides of the Atlantic to a discussion on these questions at the German Academy New York on December 11, 2018.


Public Event with Reception | Dec 11, 2018

4:00 pm

Welcome by Venue Host

Katja Wiesbrock-Donovan | Chief Officer for Management and Programming of the German Academy New York

Introduction to the Idea of the Research Network and Its Activities

Dr. Christian Peters | Managing Director of the Bremen International Graduate School of Social Science

4:30 pm

Academia and Civil Society Organizations in the Transatlantic Sphere: Strong Partners in Times of Social and Political Contestations

Moderator: Dr. Steven E. Sokol | President of the American Council on Germany, New York

Katrina Mulligan, JD | Managing Director for National Security and International Policy at CAP – Center for American Progress

Prof. Dr. Andreas Breiter | Vice President for Research und Professor for Information Management, University of Bremen

6:00 pm

Democracy under Pressure: Cleavages and Contestations – An Introduction

Moderator: Prof. Dr. Christian Martin, Max Weber Chair | Professor of European and Mediterranean Studies at New York University, NYU Center for European and Mediterranean Studies

Prof. Dr. Olaf Groh-Samberg | Professor of Sociology at the University of Bremen Dean of BIGSSS

Prof. Dr. Martin Nonhoff | Professor of Political Theory, University of Bremen


Prof. Dr. Evelyne Huber | Professor of Political Science at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

7:15 pm

Reception & Buffet

Kick-off Speech: Democratic Challenges of New Information and Communication Technologies

Prof. Dr. Joshua A. Tucker | Professor of Politics at New York University, Co-Director of the NYU Social Media and Political Participation lab (SMaPP)