The Democracy Centre Vienna (Demokratiezentrum Wien) is an academic non-profit organization, strongly oriented to applying and conveying knowledge. It is an academic research institution and a virtual knowledge centre which deals with basic questions of political culture and of the political system of Austria in the European context; it is concerned with the processes of democratization and their historical development, with current sociopolitical debates, with the media society (emphasizing the competent use of media and the decoding of visual messages) as well as with IT-transformation and the knowledge society.
In recent years the Democracy Centre has developed into an academic institute with an application-oriented profile, situated at the interface between the academic and public spheres. In 2005, the Democracy Centre submitted applications for academic projects that were each funded after a multi-stage process with international jury-evaluation. The success of these applications attests to the high academic standard of the Democracy Centre. In this process various thematic emphases emerged: European identities; political picture-strategies as well as historic and political iconography; media and democracy as well as creative/open access and the digital storage of knowledge. On the knowledge platform, an important endeavour has been multi-media development and the incorporation of on-line film material.
Virtual Knowledge Centre
The Democracy Centre Vienna sets out to be a virtual knowledge centre with an extensive supply of substantive material on relevant current and historical questions of democracy and sociopolitics. The module, Knowledge, offers central access to the content supply of the Democracy Centre, and it has the following components:
- Knowledge stations
- Knowledge lexicon (at the moment only availbale in German)
- Timelines (at the moment only availbale in German)
- Articles for downloading with detailed abstracts
- Literature references
- Audios and videos (at the moment only availbale in German)
- Graphics and charts (at the moment only available in German)
Emphasis on Pictures
There has been an enormous increase in the significance of visual media in the modern information society. Thus while the academic/scientific community has been traditionally dominated by the "rational" medium of language, in the last ten years, even this community has come to recognize that research relevant to society cannot forego the analysis of what laws may govern the structure of pictorial communication.
Realizing this, the Democracy Centre has in recent years carried out two projects: one on visual forms of presentation of Europe in Europe in the media (Project Iconclash) and the other on election campaign posters in the Second Republic (Project Election posters). Out of these two projects came the Picture Atlas EUrope and the module Political Picture-Strategies (only available in German) in which selected pictures are presented along with a comprehensive analytic text and information on the context.
Networking and Participation in the Establishment of a European Research Network on Studies in Democracy, Culture and the Media.
The Democracy Centre Vienna functioned as project-director of a consortium in writing a major proposal with international university partners (Basel, Florence, Giessen, Zürich). The Democracy Centre shepherded this proposal through two internationally juried rounds, and was successful in receiving funding for the creation of the new Ludwig Boltzmann Institute of European History and Public Spheres. On 1 June 2005 this joint enterprise began its work.
Our Knowledge Gateway can be accessed in German and English. The English language version is being put in place step by step.