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Economic models and modern democracies

Since WWII, substantial progress has been made in Europe in terms of economic development, improving life conditions and allowing (and enabling) the consolidation of liberal democracies. However, in recent decades the intensification of economic globalisation, market de-regulation and the financialisation of economies have posed new challenges to democratic governance. Global corporatised and financialised capitalism has created dynamic economic systems that produce material wealth but at the same time pose challenges to democracy, fundamental rights, social inclusion, reversing inequalities (including gender inequality), welfare, as well as the sustainability of our ecological system and climate change. On the other hand, alternative business models (e.g. social economy organisations and social enterprises) have emerged in reaction to this evolution. They operate on the basis of democratic and participatory principles and prioritise their societal mission over their profits.

Proposals are expected to address some of the following points: To study the interrelationship between politics, people’s participation, culture and economics in modern European democracies across time. In this vein, to comparatively analyse the role of various democratic institutional configurations and actors in mitigating the negative effects of economic activity on society and on democratic processes, while promoting inclusive and sustainable growth. How can democratic politics exercise control over the economic logic? How can re-embedding democracy and (the various forms of) capitalism be envisaged? How do economic actors, such as corporations, influence the democratic process? Through what channels (political parties, media, sponsorship, etc.)? What is the real impact of corporate lobbying on the democratic process? Research may study trends in capital accumulation and distribution, especially in new digital and creative industries, and the impacts they have on the functioning of democracies. Proposals should examine legal, social, economic, organisational and financial innovations that could make corporations more inclusive, accountable and conducive to social fairness and environmental sustainability, while preserving their innovation and flexibility. What would be the legitimate level of democratic governance over the economy (local, national, supranational)? In which ways can business corporations be held responsible to respect human rights? What kind of institutional mechanisms could guide the interaction of the various governance levels? Alternative economic models (including social economy organisations and social enterprises) and new models of corporate governance can be studied, in which case their success in fostering inclusive economic growth, enhancing democratic participation and improving environmental sustainability should be evaluated. Finally, proposal are encouraged to identify social innovation policies that would support such new governance models.