PhD scholarships in young people's self-organised networks and communities, democratic governance and social media.


The Ph.D.-scholarship is linked to questions about young people's self-organised networks and communities, democratic governance and social media.

Funded by the Tuborg Foundation
Apply for the position here.
The Ph.d project is an action-oriented research project that examines how to ensure that young people's spontaneous self-organized communities develop democratically and how social media can be used as a positive tool for this.
Instead of "just" preserving civil society, we must raise the question again; What do we want with civil society? How can civil society help to strengthen the self-governing committed communities that create democratic formation?
In order to understand this, we need to generate new knowledge about constraints and potentials in civil society's other forms of organization than the traditional association democracy, in order to investigate their potentials in relation to democratic formation. In particular, the young people's commitment to new forms of organization and their use of social media is central to understanding whether the new forms of voluntary activity can contribute to creating democratic formation.
For more than 150 years, the Association Act in the Danish Constitution has contributed to the creation of thousands of self-organized associations, most of which have had the character of organized democratic communities. Since a number of associations over the years have been characterized by people education associations governed by the Ministry of Culture, they have increasingly been able to receive public support if they have organized themselves according to the legislation. There is a requirement for the presence of a formally elected board of directors, auditor-approved accounts, holding of a general meeting, etc. These principles have been institutionalized and have spread as a guiding principle for associations outside the Ministry of Culture, inter alia. associations engaged in social work.
The 'optimists' see great democratic opportunities in this development. They perceive the ancient association types that stiffened and anchored in a democracy understanding of the 19th and 20th centuries. They see the new community forms as potentially more democratic, as they assume that the new communities are more inclusive due to less formal requirements for participation. Some of the 'optimists' can be called 'liberalists', as they point out that the trend towards new 'unorganized' communities also requires a reminder of the model that today favors the formal associations in the form of grants from it public. It is important for the 'liberalists' as they consider the current grant model of public support unfair (since the traditional associations do not have the same monopoly as regards the organization of communities - the 'new' self-organized communities are organizing more and more people but getting not a corresponding part of public funds). In addition, it is important for the 'liberalists' that the existing association structure be eliminated, as it protects and safeguards those already established. In other words, the structure ensures that the 'old' associations are on the 'power'.
This type of association has undoubtedly played an important role in the dissemination of an institutionalized democratic practice that has consolidated a particular democracy in Denmark. But the question is whether we are reaching a point where this association type with certain Community forms is being killed. In any case, over the last 20-30 years, we can observe the emergence of more spontaneously self-organized groups who deselect the known forms of association and refuse to be captured in the traditional structure with formally elected board, articles of association, general assembly etc. It is a type of association that fits well with the 'ildsjælen' as he / she is not braked by formal frameworks. These 'new' communities can be observed in all areas including sports and body culture (for example, we see many informal running and cycling clubs), the arts and performance area, and in the field of social policy, for example, where friendly residents represent a rapidly mobilized group without the big formal structure that has a single case on its agenda.
Faced with the 'optimists', the pessimists are concerned about the new development with several associations out of the traditional association structure. One is afraid that the democratic learning principles, as most Danes have grown up in the form of participation in traditional unions, are undermined. The 'pessimists' see no clear trends that new democratic learning processes replace the old ones. In particular, it is emphasized that the spontaneously formed associations do not commit their members to participate for a longer period of time. Which according to the 'pessimists' makes it hard to maintain the struggle for a case or ensure that there are always volunteers who will work for the association's maintenance. It implies a criticism of the volatile and floating communities, as non-binding and thus contrary to the whole basic idea of democratic formation.
This development towards more self-organized non-formal communities and the outlined positions in relation to this change is set aside for this research project.
The project poses two main research questions:
1. Both 'pessimists' and 'optimists' are rooted in the view that communities are good for democracy and identity. However, they both forget that both the traditional associations and the new 'self-organized' communities have a negative side. In order to define its purpose, the traditional association must at the same time exclude groups, purposes and organizational forms. The same applies to the new and informal association. Since all can hardly participate and be included, there are also excluded community     creatures.

Therefore, we must raise the question of what is needed to create positive social communities that raise youth for democracy?
    a. Who and what will be included/excluded? And who/what excludes?
    b. Is it true that the new types of association are more democratic? If so, what is it particularly democratic in the informal self-organization?
2. Especially young people's informal self-organizing communities are increasingly using social media. Therefore, the above questions must be supplemented by an examination of the role of social media in                     strengthening the democratic formation of young people:
    a. To what extent and in what ways does social media contribute to enhancing the ability to make new types of associations (both real and virtual) that have the character of democratic education?
    b. To what extent do social media have a negative effect? Who is excluded? What types of negative communities do they establish?

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