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Multilingual democracy experiments in movements: from transnational activists to local decision-makers

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Multilingual democracy found in translation

A groundbreaking comparative assessment has shed light on how linguistic diversity and political translation create a positive foundation for democracy.

Climate Change and Environment

Differences are often viewed as obstacles. This is often the case with political theories when linguistic differences are concerned. However, differences and misunderstandings can be a springboard for more inclusive and effective decision making. In turn, social movements can actually be strengthened in multilingual democratic societies. TRANSLATE DEMOCRACY, an EU-funded project, conducted an empirical comparison of forums and social movements in both Europe and the United States. Through 10 years of fieldwork, much ground was covered in examining how political translation is used both at an international and a domestic level. This involved the World Social Forum and two of its chapters, the European Social Forum and the US Social Forum. Local urban democracy in poor multilingual communities of socially disadvantaged groups and immigrants in California was part of the experiment. Additionally, the project addressed the subject of deliberation regarding the future of the EU. It also considered inequality, immigration and housing policies in the United States and California in particular. One of the project's main achievements was how it fills the existing gap between literature and democratic deliberation. The research, which shows a new way of looking at deliberative democratic processes, gives way to a new form of inquiry in political translation-oriented research. Furthermore, based on this, policymakers can include ordinary citizens and marginalised groups in specific deliberative processes. This inclusivity can provide a model for rising above conflict and crisis.


Multilingual democracy, democracy, linguistic diversity, political translation, social movements, democratic societies, urban democracy, multilingual communities, socially disadvantaged, immigrants, democratic deliberation, marginalised groups

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