About us

Building on the expertise of its faculty and research team, the Albert Hirschman Centre on Democracy promotes interdisciplinary comparative research on democracy.

The Centre brings together sociologists and social anthropologists, historians, economists, political scientists and legal scholars to research the current challanges to democracy and debate on how best to meet them.

Its research and outreach activities cover a set of core themes including:

  • Blurred divide between liberal and illiberal democracies
  • Crises of democratic representation: elections and majoritarianism, referenda and direct democracy, populism
  • Civic action in streets, courts and on internet
  • Democracies in historical perspective
  • Capitalism and democracy

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Shalini-Randeria.png (Shalini-Randeria.png)Democracy has gone global. Yet while the majority of the world’s population lives in formal democracies today, trust in the political institutions of liberal democracy is in free fall in many societies. The distinction between “liberal” and “illiberal” democracies is increasingly blurred. Globalisation, the digital revolution as well as the tensions between national democracies and global market forces have led to a radical questioning of the legitimacy of democratic institutions. 
Governments continue to render themselves unaccountable to their citizens. Have elections become a collective celebration of popular powerlessness? Has protest shifted from the streets to the courts? Is the separation of powers outdated? 
By adding this timely, new and exciting research field to the existing research landscape of the Institute, the Albert Hirschman Centre on Democracy aims at facilitating dialogue between scholars and analysts from different academic backgrounds and with various biographical experiences of democracy.

Shalini Randeria, Professor of Anthropology and Sociology; Director of the Albert Hirschman Centre on Democracy; Rector of the Institute for Human Sciences (IWM), Vienna