This resource has one central aim: to help public lawyers better understand democratic decay and to work together in the search for solutions.
A STARTING POINT
There is a wealth of excellent research taking place, in public law, political science, sociology and other disciplines to understand the growing global trend toward incremental deterioration of democratic governance without any abrupt or clear breakdown of the democratic system. This website uses the term 'democratic decay' as a broad rubric for this phenomenon.
You can go to the Concept Index for a fuller description of the term democratic decay, as well as a list of, and descriptions of, the growing range of concepts used to discuss this phenomenon. See the Concept Map too for a quick snapshot.
At present (and as has been discussed elsewhere) much of the research on this phenomenon is taking place in discrete silos, with often few links between different research fields within public law, or between law and other disciplines. This resource seeks to provide a starting point for public lawyers, a 'one stop shop' for getting a grasp of the area, and for achieving a fuller appreciation of what kind of research is taking place across the globe. That said, while this resource aims to provide as much useful information as possible, it cannot be exhaustive.
framing a research field
At present, the study of democratic decay is a discrete area within a variety of established research fields of public law, encompassing — within law alone — comparative constitutional law, constitutional theory, international human rights law, and the law of international organisations, to name just a few. This resource is an attempt to frame what should be viewed as a research field in its own right. The phenomenon of democratic decay transcends neat boundaries between research fields, and seeking understanding of this threat, and possible solutions, requires much greater interaction across these boundaries. Public law scholars working on this issue from very different angles, and in different states and world regions, have much to learn from one another.
CREATING A GLOBAL COMMUNITY
A practical aim of this resource is not only to give public lawyers a sense of what research is already available in this area, but also to identify scholars — as well as research centres and other organisations —with whom they can collaborate. There is a clear need to foster links between the many public law scholars worldwide who are grappling with these questions.
This resource aims not only to provide public lawyers of different stripes with a sense of what scholarship is being produced within law, but to also provide a limited sense of how scholars in other disciplines (especially political scientists) approach the phenomenon of democratic decay.
Although this resource is primarily aimed at public lawyers, it also aims to provide a way to bridge understanding between law and other disciplines in this area, as well as between academics and policymakers. For non-lawyers, this resource will hopefully provide a useful window into how thinking within legal scholarship is developing in this area.
It should be emphasised that other useful resources exist, which are not aimed at lawyers: see e.g. the Democratic Erosion website. It is also important to recognise too that many solutions to the phenomenon of democratic decay will fall outside the law, but it remains vital to understand what 'added value' the law provides in its various dimensions. The Law Index (currently under construction) will provide key information on how law can be used as both a weapon and a shield in states suffering democratic decay.
What HAS BEEN Achieved SO FAR
As can be seen from even a brief perusal of the site, a significant amount of information has already been collated to date, including:
- An annotated index of some 80 key concepts
- A preliminary list of public law scholars working in this area worldwide
- A significant bibliography, spanning constitutional and international law, including key texts from political science, and organised according to selected themes, geographic region, and international organisations
- A 'starter kit' of teaching resources
- A list of forthcoming events within this area
- A collection of links to useful information, sources and resources