Event Recap: Conversation on Digital Technology and Democratic Theory

Are social media and communications platforms undermining our democratic institutions and the fabric of our society? What can be done to make democratic systems and values more resilient to technological disruption? Can democracy and new technologies peacefully coexist?

As we develop new frameworks for understanding the ways that digital and social infrastructure overlap and rely on one another, it’s important to make sure we understand how new and emerging technologies impact all areas of everyday life. The essays contained in a new volume edited by Rob Reich and Lucy Bernholz of Stanford PACS, and Hélène Landemore, titled Digital Technology and Democratic Theory, address many of these concerns head on, and offer insights for creating a world that’s more critically engaged with technology and the ways in which it impacts our communities, democratic institutions, and the wider world around us.

Siegel grantees Data & Society and Stanford PACS recently co-hosted a discussion to celebrate the book’s release. Topics covered by the group ranged from the implications that new technologies have for the health of democratic institutions, to the ways that different segments of society can make themselves more resilient to technological change. The panel was hosted and moderated by Data & Society researcher and volume contributor Robyn Caplan, and featured a discussion between Bernholz and Reich and two of the volume’s contributors: Dr. Seeta Peña Gangadharan, Associate Professor in the Department of Media and Communications at the London School of Economics and Political Science, and Archon Fung, the Winthrop Laflin McCormack Professor of Citizenship and Self-Government at the Harvard Kennedy School.

Watch the full discussion, and read selected insights and highlights from the conversation below.