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.