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Networked Democracy

Towards a network society of the people, by the people, for the people.

The group’s central line of research and action is devoted to democracy in the network society. At least three factors define the current democratic conjuncture: a crisis of political representation that lasts several decades (especially manifest in the crisis of confidence in parties and political representatives) linked to the emergence of alternative forms of action and political organization; the current configuration of capitalism (including new forms of informational capitalism, supported by big data, digital platforms and surveillance); and the continuous innovation in the field of information and communication technologies, as well as in the practices associated to them. Analyzing politics today, especially the datacratic processes that are redefining it, is the key to our Datapolitik project, developed in collaboration with Heurística.
This ambivalent situation raises the need, the opportunity and the challenge of building new forms of democracy that are radically participatory, supported by hybrid processes and structures, mediated by ICTs. Our group is involved in the Decidim project, devoted to developing a digital platform and a systemic framework for participatory democracy in the network society. Decidim is a public-common digital infrastructure and a political network (a third-generation digital network, after informational networks such as the WWW and corporate social networks such as Facebook), aimed at promoting democracy at all scales of social life. The project goes hand in hand with the construction of citizen networks (through the Metadecidim Operational Sessions, SOM) and techno-scientific networks (through the MetadecidimLAB) called upon to decide the future development of Decidim and, further on, to become active subjects in the construction of a network democracy of everyone, by everyone, for everyone.
The Decidim technology is currently being improved thanks to the DECODE project, a project oriented to develop technological, legal and socioeconomic tools that move the current digital society and economy towards a more democratic and just paradigm, defined by data autonomy and commons. Among other things, DECODE will improve Decidim by enabling blockchain-based, privacy-enhancing, transparent, and data enriched e-petitions.
As part of this research line we published the book Ciudades democráticas: la revuelta municipalista en el ciclo post-15M, which gathers the experiences of the municipalist initiatives in Spain during the period 2015-2019.
Given our relationship with research and experience in the field of digital participation we have supported the deployment of Decidim to articulate the participatory process around the strategic plan of the UOC 2022-2025.
In short, in this line of action we try to analyze the limits, risks and possibilities of politics today. Going beyond that, we try to build alternatives that allow us to move towards a network society of the people, by the people, for the people.