The Düsseldorf Institute for Internet and Democracy was founded in 2016. The aim of the institute is to analyze and develop the potential of the internet for democratic innovations and to provide a framework within which interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary research projects can be pursued. Based on systematic theory construction and empirical research, the opportunities and risks of the internet are to be investigated in the areas of citizen participation, public communication and political mobilization as well as in companies and other organizations.

How can we measure and evaluate the effects of online participation processes? How can online technologies be protected from anti-democratic misuse? How might digital technology change decision processes in economic organizations? How can we improve the deliberative quality in online discussions? How is it possible to analyze vast amounts of content from participation processes automatically? Which ethical and legal questions do we have to take into consideration in the context of online participation? These are only a few of the questions which more than 40 scientists from a diversity of backgrounds are currently working on under the auspices of the DIID. In addition, the DIID has a service unit which offers supervision and evaluation of online participation processes to external clients.

The study of the success and risk conditions of digital innovations from basic research to practical application is the mission of the Institute.

  • Research into the variants, dynamics and effects of digital innovations,
  • Development of new technical and organisational concepts
  • Testing of systems and processes in practice
  • Evaluation of output, outcome and impact of digital processes
  • Transfer of knowledge and concepts to society

One main focus is on the possibilities of participation being opened up in various social contexts by means of the Internet but also on the dangers of their anti-democratic misuse. The research results serve to develop new scientifically based models for the democratic use of the Internet and to further their implementation.

Structure and Organization

Currently about 60 scientists at the HHU from different disciplines such as Economics, Computer Science, Communication Science, Philosophy, Political Science, Law and Sociology are conducting research at the DIID. The DIID provides the framework within which interdisciplinary projects can be pursued and concrete issues surrounding the Internet and democracy can be addressed.

Since its official start on 21st July, 2016, the DIID has been working as a central scientific institution of the HHU. The governing body of the DIID is the board which is elected for two years. The board consists of 12 members who are entitled to vote and two non-voting members in an advisory capacity. The spokespersons are Christiane Eilders, Stefan Conrad and  Ulrich Rosar. The DIID is also supported and advised by an advisory board.

The operative team of the DIID consists of the spokespersons, five research assistants as well as the secretariat and graduate assistants. We have also summarized the entire organizational structure of DIID in an organigram.