Even in well-established democratic societies, the political system currently faces a crisis of civic engagement and participation. Increasingly, this lack of engagement and the accompanying erosion of institutional legitimacy result in antidemocratic, populist currents gaining ground.
It is an important challenge for both the humanities and the social sciences to analyse this crisis and discuss possible answers that may contribute to strengthening the position of the democratic public sphere in the political process, thus emphasising the crucial role of civic engagement and participation in renewing democracy.
The articles in this volume seek the sources for such democratic innovations in a variety of existing, less formalised practices and experiences in public space: in citizens' forums and other concrete arenas for democratic debate and participation in the media in general, including social media and other digital platforms; in social movements; and in artistic interventions in the public sphere.
The volume presents selected and edited papers and keynote lectures from the international research conference The Democratic Public Sphere - Current Challenges and Prospects, which was held at Aarhus University on November 5-7, 2015. It includes contributions by keynote speakers Mark E. Warren, Nick Couldry, Donatella della Porta, and Stephen Duncombe.