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Political Inclusion

Project leaders:

Dr. Anna Ahlers, Dr. Lena Laube, Dr. Evelyn Moser and Prof. Dr. Rudolf Stichweh



Political Inclusion: Democracy and Its Alternatives

The project connects to the sociological theory of inclusion, which arose in the last few decades based on writings by T.H. Marshall, T. Parsons, N. Luhmann and M. Foucault. The project links inclusion to the hypothesis of the functional differentiation of World Society. Concentrating on the political system of World Society and looking to the forms and variants of political inclusion the project will try to present a systematic description and explanation of the types of political regimes, which exist in modern society. Political democracy has its basis in a radical individualization of political inclusion and in pushing back all traditional paths of access to participation and all paths of access connected to the possession of non-political resources. The project will try to make visible that even the alternatives to democracy sustain the inclusion imperative characteristic of modernity. These alternatives can well be analysed and well be understood in the conditions of their success if one takes a careful look at how they deal in various ways with the inclusion imperative. The political regimes which are to be distinguished besides the different forms of democracy (representative democracy, direct democracy) are: Variants of an authoritarianism putatively legitimated by its achievements (Singapore); absolute monarchy (Saudi-Arabia); theocracy (Iran); expertocracy, technocracy and meritocracy (China); military dictatorship (Egypt). The model of an aristocratic, elitist republicanism prominent in early modern Europe seems no longer to be existent in the present-day world.

The project does not take its analytical path via the regime types. Instead it looks at the interrelation of inclusion and the variation possibilities of political regimes via five different aspects of the relevance and institutional realization of inclusion:

  1. The problem of social regulations of access to political systems. Categorizations of persons will be studied, that are relevant for political inclusion in modernity, such as age, nationality or duration of stay in a country.
  2. The question of multiple inclusion in political systems as combinable, partly competing and potentially substitutable expectations and forms of inclusion into subsystems and organizations (for example, political parties, public administration, elections, social movements, the military) as well as the different system levels of organizing the political (local, regional, national, global).
  3. The topic of the action capabilities and learning aptitudes of political systems and the resulting transfer of inclusion to the output side of the political system.
  4. The contradictory and ambiguous relationship of inclusion and the knowledge basis of political systems.
  5. The concession of autonomous action domains (central banks, constitutional courts) as a way of institutionalizing a self-limitation of inclusion in political systems


Project outline


Activities in the framework of the project "Political Inclusion":


  • Ahlers, Anna/ Stichweh, Rudolf: MA-Seminar an der Universität Luzern: "Politische Inklusion", Winter term 2014/15.
  • Laube, Lena/ Moser, Evelyn: BA-Seminar an der Universität Bonn, Institut für Politikwissenschaft und Soziologie: "Soziologie der politischen Inklusion: Theoretische Perspektiven und empirische Anwendungen", Winter term 2014/15.



Presentation of the project "Political Inclusion" with two lectures during the Dies Academicus, 3 December 2014, 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.:

  • Moser, Evelyn: "Die Politik der Gabe: Autonomiekonzessionen und gemeinnützige Stiftungen in Demokratien"
  • Stichweh, Rudolf: "Demokratie und Autoritarismus als globale politische Modelle. Zu einer soziologischen Theorie politischer Regimes"


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