Module 1: Varieties of democratic governance beyond the state
Globalization leads to political decisions increasingly being taken by institutions on the international, transnational, regional, or local level and less and less by nation states. Examples of these new decision-making bodies are:
- international or supranational organizations such as the European Union or the World Trade Organization (WTO);
- international environmental institutions such as the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD);
- transgovernmental networks such as the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision;
- regional governance networks in metropolitan areas such as Paris Métropole;
- private authorities such as rating agencies, the International Organization for Standardization, or the Forest Stewardship Council.
All these new decision-making bodies have in common that they are not elected, and consequently are not directly accountable to citizens. At the same time, there exists no single template for democratization. Representative models co-exist with liberal, participatory, deliberative or efficiency oriented understandings of democratic governance. The research projects in Module 1 aim to discover whether and how democracy constitutes itself beyond the nation state. In particular they will focus on the following questions:
- How far do the new decision-making bodies democratize, and which notion of democratic governance do they embrace?
- Do citizens perceive them to be democratic, and according to which standards? A representative survey in four European countries and deliberative experiments will be conducted to understand citizens’ perception of and expectations towards these institutions.
- How do the media report on the new decision-making bodies? An analysis of media content will show how the democratic quality of these institutions is assessed.
- Finally, how far do the new decision-making bodies embrace the notions of democratic governance expected by citizens and the media, and how do these notions differ across decision-making bodies?
The objective of Module 1 is to understand the conditions under which political organizations beyond the state democratize, how this process relates to citizens and media, and whether such democratization follows a universal model or disparate models. The projects in Module 1 will assess the relationship between these aspects by comparing four European countries, each representing different types of democracy and media systems: Switzerland, Germany, France, and the United Kingdom. Five projects will focus on the five aforementioned types of new decision-making bodies. Project 6 will focus on the development of new methods for collecting and analyzing media content data. Project 7, to complement the survey, will carry out online, deliberative experiments on how citizens perceive the democratic legitimacy of the new institutions in question.