Democracy is in crisis in the Western world. Trust in political institutions has declined precipitously, voters have deserted centrist parties and positions in favour of radical stances of the left and right, and many citizens do not vote. Facilitated by social media, populist rhetoric and even hate speech are permeating political discourse. This is happening in a context of ever-increasing diversity, information overload and rapid technological change. The last U.S. presidential election and the Brexit referendum in the United Kingdom embodied many of the symptoms of this crisis in democracy. It is time to re-assess the state of democratic citizenship and to come up with prescriptions to fix the ailments that beset our systems of governance.
Understanding such complex phenomena requires the concerted efforts of researchers in different fields and with ties to the policy community and civil society. As the foremost, interdisciplinary and intersectoral research network on democratic citizenship in Québec and Canada, our Centre is uniquely qualified to address these critical challenges posed by growing democratic skepticism, technological change and cultural diversity.
The CSDC’s ambitious research program is organized around three interrelated research axes. Each axis addresses different questions, but all share common foci such as political socialization, social diversity, immigration, political inequality, participation, and communication.