Research Group Soft Authoritarianisms

RG Soft Authoritarianisms

Soft Authoritarianism, a concept that appears contradictory, aims to capture the current fuzziness of democracies sliding into authoritarian rule the world over. Formal elections bolster the power of strongmen, majoritarian democracies undermine the rights of minorities, the rule of law is hollowed out using the constitution, and discourses of freedom of expression are deployed to dismantle fundamental human rights.

Our Research Group studies in comparative perspective the fluid and flexible political, juridical, social and discursive configurations which blur the line between democratic and authoritarian practices of rule. It examines how soft authoritarianisms of various varieties are established and contested in different contexts. How are these new forms of rule legitimized discursively, implemented institutionally? How are responsibilities and accountability watered down, power centralized and its transfer impeded? What forms of mobilization and action by citizens attempt to stem the slow and systematic erosion of liberal democratic institutions? In what ways has the Covid-19 pandemic exacerbated authoritarian tendencies and are they here to stay?

Our three contrastive case studies linking ethnography with discourse analysis and documentary research focus on Poland, France and Turkey/the Turkish-European diaspora.

The Research Group is led by University of Bremen Excellence Chair Prof. Dr. Shalini Randeria, who is Professor of Social Anthropology and Sociology at the Graduate Institute Geneva, and Rector of the Institute of Human Sciences (IWM) in Vienna.

Members of the Research Group:
Dr. Jens Adam, Post-Doc Researcher
Dr. Ulrike Flader, Post-Doc Researcher
Hagen Steinhauer, Doctoral Researcher

The Excellence Chair is hosted by Prof. Dr. Michi Knecht and Prof. Dr. Ingo H. Warnke and the interdisciplinary research platform Worlds of Contradiction.

Project homepage:

Prof. Dr. Shalini Randeria
Universtität Bremen
Enrique-Schmidt-Str. 7
Gebäude SFG, Raum 4140
28359 Bremen
Tel. 0421/218-67651

Start Date: 01.01.2019
End Date: 31.12.2022
Financed by the Excellence Chair Scheme of the DFG