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Ph.D. in Democracy Research

English title Ph.D. in Democracy Research
Applicant Papadopoulos Ioannis
Number 126400
Funding scheme ProDoc
Research institution Institut d'études politiques Faculté des SSP Université de Lausanne
Institution of higher education University of Lausanne - LA
Main discipline Political science
Start/End 01.10.2009 - 30.09.2013
Approved amount 257'600.00
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All Disciplines (2)

Political science
Communication sciences

Keywords (8)

democracy; transformation; denationalization; mediatization; democratization; globalization; regionalization; e-government

Lay Summary (English)

Lay summary
Contemporary democracies are challenged by various factors, such as nation states' loss of sovereignty, or the media's intrusion into politics. To ensure that the precise nature of challenges and their effects are appropriately identified, comprehensive democracy research is required. This doctoral program aims at contributing to this objective, but also intends to strengthen PhD training in the Swiss social sciences.
As a result of political and economic denationalization which can be observed, for instance, in the spread and realm of European Union's legislation, or in the power and self-interested activities of multinational companies, nation states have become highly vulnerable to external shocks. Besides, domestic political decision-making has proven to become more difficult, since media's logic of selecting and presenting political news gradually intruded into politics such as presidential election campaigns, but most recently even parliamentary elections or referenda campaigns. As a consequence, globalization and mediatization can be considered to be major challenges to contemporary democracies' problem-solving capacities.
The overall goal of this doctoral program is twofold: First, it is intended to enhance the interdisciplinary training of doctoral students from political and communication science at Swiss universities, and second it will strengthen the research conducted within the NCCR Democracy. These objectives are pursued through a structured 4 year curriculum which is organized and co-financed by the NCCR Democracy, and seven research modules comprising of 7 PhD students which focus on the causes and consequences of transformations in modern democracies. The research modules associated with this training program are the following: (1) Constituting Post-War Democracy, (2) Civil Society - Government Interactions in Global Governance, (3) The Mediatization of Decision-Making Processes in Switzerland, (4) Mediatization of Political Interest Groups: Changes of Organizational Structure and Communication, (5) Strategies of Political Actors in Public Debates, (6) The Strategies and Processes of Attitude Formation and Public Participation in a Comparative Fashion, (7) E-Democracy.
This program will contribute to a better understanding of the major effects that increasing interrelations between domestic and international political institutions as well as between politics and the media, have on the policy capacity and legitimacy of contemporary democracies. Furthermore, it will contribute to build efficiently an international interdisciplinary network of researchers, opening thus new perspectives for young researchers trained at Swiss universities, and helping them to obtain good positions in the national and international job market soon after the completion of their PhD.
Direct link to Lay Summary Last update: 21.02.2013

Responsible applicant and co-applicants


Associated projects

Number Title Start Funding scheme
127372 Civil Society - Government Interactions in Global Governance 01.10.2009 ProDoc
127230 E-Democracy 01.08.2010 ProDoc
104884 NCCR Democarcy: Challenges to Democracy in the 21st Century (phase I) 01.10.2005 National Centres of Competence in Research (NCCRs)


The proposed ProDoc Training Module (TM) “PhD in Democracy Research” aims at contributing to the improvement and strengthening of Swiss doctoral programs in social sciences. By focussing on globalization and mediatization as major challenges to democracy in the 21st century, this proposal builds upon solid conceptual grounds and institutional structures established by the NCCR Democracy to coordinate and advance the interdisciplinary training of doctoral students with a political and communication science background at Swiss universities. As this ProDoc is also planned to complement and strengthen the NCCR Democracy, it will be jointly organized by political and communication scientists associated with NCCR Democracy research. For assessing the transformations of modern democracies more comprehensively, the proposed program, however, will also take into consideration contributions from other disciplines such as economics and sociology.From the initial stage on, the proposed ProDoc is connected with 7 research modules (RM) targeting on the impact of denationalization and mediatization over the political process as specific directions in democracy research. They are directed by (1) Simon Hug (Constituting Post-War Democracy), (2) Thomas Bernauer (Civil Society - Government Interactions in Global Governance), (3) Pascal Sciarini (The mediatization of decision-making processes in Switzerland), (4) Patrick Donges (Mediatization of Political Interest Groups: Changes of Organizational Structure and Communication), (5) Hanspeter Kriesi (Strategies of political actors in public debates), (6) Werner Wirth (The Strategies and Processes of Attitude Formation and Public Participation in a Comparative Fashion) and (7) Andreas Ladner (E-Democracy). Given the thematic alignment of the RMs, this ProDoc can be fully embedded into the existing NCCR Democracy with its leading house at the University of Zurich. Based on the positive experiences gained in phase 1 of the NCCR Democracy, the proposed TM will be managed by the board of directors of the NCCR Democracy Doctoral Program. It will be composed of a director, two representatives of supervisors from political and communication science, a scientific coordinator and a PhD students’ representative. Regular meetings with all supervisors involved into ProDoc and NCCR projects will be arranged; permanent contact will be ensured through the scientific coordinator. Ioannis Papadopoulos (University of Lausanne) as the responsible applicant for the TM will chair the board, since he has gained wealth of experience as the director of the NCCR Democracy Doctoral Program as well as a NCCR Democracy module and project leader.The current NCCR Democracy Doctoral Program involves 23 doctoral students from political and communication science at the Universities of Zurich, St. Gallen, the ETH Zurich and the University of Lausanne. Since the NCCR Democracy’s Review Panel emphatically recommended promoting higher qualification levels, i.e. post-docs and assistant professors, several NCCR Democracy projects will hire and support more post-docs in the second phase of the NCCR. As a consequence of achieving a balance of PhD students and post-docs, fewer resources than in the 1st phase of the NCCR Democracy will be available to fund the same number of PhD students. In order to avoid painful cuts at doctoral students’ expenses, the proposed ProDoc would allow for the funding of a maximum of 10 PhD positions and, thus, provide a solid basis for a critical mass of about 20 PhD students attending the training program. With this proposal we will offer to well-qualified students a structured PhD program in social sciences, a kind of program that is currently rather low-numbered in Switzerland. Given the thematic orientation of this ProDoc, it can both complement and strengthen the research undertaken in the second phase of the NCCR Democracy. Since the NCCR Democracy’s SNSF Review Panel and its International Scientific Council highly appreciate the quality of the current NCCR Doctoral Program, the proposed ProDoc could also contribute to a further institutionalization of well-functioning NCCR structures.