Liberal Democracies under Stress: Economic Inequality, Cultural Diversity, and Populism

Bremen's University Talks: Panel & Symposium

Bremen | November 15-16, 2018

Liberal Democracies under Stress

This year’s University Talks could not be more up to date. In different parts of the world, we witness unsettling changes in the political arena: established democratic systems and political powers are increasingly challenged by new political actors that seem to offer easy solutions to complex problems. We see that in many countries populist-nationalist movements increasingly provoke conflicts with liberal-universalist ideals. Equality of all people and the protection of their human dignity and rights are no longer self-evident. Nationalist discourses – which never died out completely – are on the rise again. The freedom of the press or of academic research is questioned in some democratic states. In others, liberal state principles like the independence of the judiciary branch are in jeopardy.


Public Panel Discussion on "Can We Still Talk?" | Nov 15, 2018

Thursday night's panel discussion focuses on the need to keep up the will of different political camps and society as a whole to communicate and to deliberate – with a genuine respect for diverging viewpoints –, and to seek compromise when social conflict looms. How can we work on solutions for the existing problems in our societies without sacrificing the achievements of liberal democracy, incl. democratic equality and the acceptance of difference in societies that are characterized by an increasing diversity of their inhabitants?


Heiko Staroßom | Wolfgang-Ritter-Stiftung


Martin Nonhoff | Universität Bremen

Olaf Groh-Samberg | Universität Bremen


Können wir noch miteinander reden? Das Auseinanderdriften der Gesellschaft und die Krise der Öffentlichkeit

mit den Gästen:

Aydan Özoguz | SPD, Mitglied des Deutschen Bundestages

Wolfgang Merkel | Wissenschaftszentrum Berlin für Sozialforschung

Jürgen Kaube | Frankfurter Allgemeinen Zeitung


Stephanie Rohde | WDR und Deutschlandfunk (Moderation)


Katharina Franck | Sängerin, Songwriter, Autorin (Musik)

Download  the invitation to the Panel Discussion Nov 15, 2018.


Expert Symposium on "Economic Inequality, Cultural Diversity, and Populism" | Nov 16, 2018

What exactly are the problems that are causing the turbulences in our open and liberal societies and the popularity of populist parties and their agendas? And how do these problems translate into political mobilization? The symposium turns to these questions. In the four panels of the day, sociologists, political scientists, psychologists and representatives from civil society and politics discuss the challenges of liberal democracies in the face of increasing inequalities, growing diversity and new political movement:


Stephanie Rohde | WDR, Deutschlandfunk



Populism, Populisms

Philip Manow | Universität Bremen

Paula Diehl | Universität Bielefeld

Yannis Stavrakakis | Aristotle University of Thessaloniki



Democratic Participation – a Panacea?

Martin Nonhoff | Universität Bremen

Arndt Wonka | Universität Bremen

Karolina Wigura | Kultura Liberalna/University of Warsaw



Dynamics of Social Inequality

Olaf Groh-Samberg | Universität Bremen

Shamus Khan | Columbia University

Mirijam Günter | Author



Diversity and Identity Politics

Paula-Irene Villa | Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München

Klaus Boehnke | Constructor University

Elke Wolf | Ministry of Education Bremen


 Download Symposium Program Nov 16, 2018.