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Microdynamics of Political Communication in World Society.

The Social Life of the Democracy Concept in Bangladesh and Senegal.

Funded by: German Research Foundation (DFG)
Central Project Coordination: Bielefeld University, Faculty of Sociology, Transnationalisation and Development Research Centre, Research Group Social Anthropology
German Partner: Ruhr-Universität Bochum

Principal Investigators:

  • Prof. Dr. Joanna Pfaff-Czarnecka, Professor of Social Anthropology, Faculty of Sociology, Bielefeld University
  • Prof. Dr. Eva Gerharz, Assistant Professor (Juniorprofessor) of Development Sociology and Internationalization, Faculty of Social Science, Ruhr-University Bochum
  • PD Dr. Christian Meyer, Visiting Professor of Media Theory, Siegen University

Members of the Project Team, Bielefeld, Germany:

  • Dr. Sandrine Gukelberger (researcher & project coordinator), Bielefeld University
  • Sambalaye Diop (PhD student), project: “The participating audience: the notion of democracy in the appropriation of media in Senegal”, Bielefeld University
  • Éva Rozália Hölzle (PhD student), project: “Dynamics of land politics and the hermeneutics of democracy in Bangladesh”, Bielefeld University
  • Katrin Renschler (research assistant), project: "Challenges of Diversity – Practices of Conviviality in Northeast India", Ruhr-University Bochum

Term: March 2011- November 2014

Project Description:

The project „Microdynamics of Political Communication in World Society. The Social Life of the Democracy Concept in Bangladesh and Senegal” examines the global spread of the terms democracy/democratization on the basis of their local appropriation. It is assumed that the concept of democracy has penetrated remote regions of the world, where it experiences unexpected enrichment due to specific connotations. Such reinterpretations are negotiated in interactions, characterized by different positioning acts, and in constellations of actors, shaped by asymmetries of power. The main interest of the project is to explore how the global norm of democracy generates local realities through social practices: To what extent and in which ways are the globally circulating notions of democracy and democratization - for example through development channels – re-interpreted in local contexts, debated, modified, used strategically, appropriated or rejected? To answer these questions, the project focuses on culturally embedded notions of the "good life", that is happiness, law and handling violence. The comparative analysis investigates the negotiation processes of the local understanding of democracy and in particular their relevant current domains in both research regions.