Democracy is a fundamental element of liberal societies. To be sustainable, democracy must continue to develop with a constantly changing society. Digitalization plays an important part in current social developments, but also in meeting the challenges of democracy.
Digital technologies expand the possibilities of social, economic and political organization in many ways. This is currently noticeable not only as a structural change affecting the general public but also as a change in democratic processes and forms of political communication. This change is observed with concern by politicians and the general public. It is feared that the use of digital media will influence the shaping of political opinions and lead to election manipulation. The power of transnational social networks and platforms is also a subject of this discussion. On the one hand, these platforms have contributed decisively to lowering the barriers of participation and have created new opportunities for public communication. On the other hand, the business model of such platforms leads to extensive monitoring and algorithmic curating of social life. Although the selection mechanisms of such algorithms greatly influence the flow of public information, their mode of operation is nontransparent.
Given the significance on democracy attributed to digital media, the working group is concerned with individual aspects of this relationship. The objective is to assess the current change in terms of new ways to strengthen and expand political self-determination, but also to look at the existing risks to derive recommendations for action for politics and society. The working group will concentrate in particular on issues related to the public realm because this is where the greatest potential for change is currently suspected.
ML = Member of the Leopoldina