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Research environment

DGc - Center for Democratic Government in Change

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Jan Olsson

Research Domains

  • Humanities-Social sciences

The origin of democratic government goes back some 2,500 years. Its modern reawakening constitutes nonetheless one of the most important innovations in the 20th century. It has spread over the world in sequential waves and has been given various institutional forms in different countries. However, democracies have also faced major problems and challenges during the last decades like globalisation, decreasing trust and weakening participation. To secure, improve and develop democratic government in times of change new challenges and possibilities need to be handled in intelligent ways. The Center for Democratic Government in Change (DGc) at Örebro University takes on this challenge by contributing with research of high quality in collaboration with governments, public agencies and citizen organisations. The center is based in political science and works in cooperation with other social science disciplines. The aim of DGc is:

  • to describe and analyse reforms and processes of change of great relevance to democratic governments at various levels and in different countries as well as to critically asses their democratic and political consequences,
  • to understand and explain major reform trends and processes of change of relevance to democratic governments and in particular to elaborate on contextual factors that tend to promote or resist change (the change – stability dimension), and
  • to contribute constructively in developing and testing reforms in collaboration with practitioners aiming at bridging the gap between citizens and their representatives.

Important themes and objects of study are democratic innovations like e-democracy initiatives and deliberative planning; policy change within key policy fields like environment, education, social welfare and gender mainstreaming; development of new policy fields such as safety and climate change; new forms of public organisations like public-private partnerships and one-stop-shops; changing roles and relations between politicians and public officials; and changing citizen attitudes and behaviours as well as different forms of citizen engagement, participation and influence.

DGc approaches reforms and change processes both in a critical and constructive way. Proudly declared reforms may have very little to do with new ideas or solutions, while truly innovative change may develop under many different labels. We are therefore open both to top-down reforms and change processes from below. We critically analyse ambitious reform initiatives and their outcome, but we also take part in dialogues in relation to different reform alternatives and seek to find new ways forward. As researchers, we are not a quiet audience watching things go by. In a truly collaborative spirit, we take part in public discussions in which we can offer ideas and arguments based on social science research of high quality.