DSP-Research Group

Digital Society & Democracy


The main social spheres of contemporary society including politics, the economy, culture, education, and everyday user practices are increasingly shaped by digital technologies. This process reinforces the need for imaginative research that cuts across diverse academic disciplines. The present proposal for a doctoral programme pursues and supports doctoral research focusing on issues of democracy / equality and diversity / participation as well as sustainability in the current and future digital network society from a social scientific perspective, in particular from the sociological, political, and communication angle.

The doctoral program Digital Society & Democracy is an updated and expanded concept in terms of content and organization of the doctoral program “Internet & Democracy” at the University of Salzburg, which has already been running successfully since 2016/2017. The research programme of the proposed Doctoral School is concerned with social, political, cultural, economic, and policy issues arising from the digital communication technology affecting democratic societies. It examines the diffusion and integration of new communication technologies into society and the consequences for democratic legitimacy, responsiveness, (unequal) political participation, representation, organization, and political decision-making. It also examines how political power arrangements, communication, economic equality, and social justice are affected by digital transformation. A particular focus is placed on the interactions between technology (Internet/ICTs/social media), political institutions, social structure, regulation and governance, the communication strategies of organizations and elites, and everyday life and economic markets, as well as their combined transformative power.

  • Fellows

    Marco Fölsch
    Topic: The Role of Populism in Individual-Level Behavior (Political Science)
    Supervisor: Reinhard Heinisch

    Stefan Gadringer
    Topic: Shaping digital communication on the Internet. An analysis of policy agendas, processes and visions on Network Neutrality in the United States and the European Union (Communication Studies)
    Supervisor: Josef Trappel

    Roland Holzinger
    Topic: Medienvertrauen in einer High-Choice-Informationsumwelt (Communication Studies)
    Supervisor: Josef Trappel

    Alexandra Krämer
    Topic: Ökologische Fakten in fragmentierten Öffentlichkeiten. Vergleich der Aufmerksamkeits- und Legitimationsstrategien wissenschaftlicher, unternehmerischer und protestöffentlicher Akteure (Communication Studies)
    Supervisor: Peter Winkler

    Jannik Kretschmer
    Topic: Herbeireden organisationaler Zukünfte: Eine narrative Analyse von Moden der Digitalisierung in der strategischen Kommunikation (Communication Studies)
    Supervisor: Peter Winkler

    Ricardo Parilla-Guix
    Topic: Press coverage of the sovereign debt crisis during the Cyprus bail-out 2013 and the Greek referendum 2015. How leading newspapers of five EU countries contributed to a shared identification and a common and plural European political framework (Communication Studies)
    Supervisor: Josef Trappel
    Doctoral viva: 4-20-2022

    Konstatin Schätz
    Topic: Crisis Journalism zu Zeiten einer Pandemie – Zu Theorie und Praxis einer neuen Form des Krisenjournalismus (Communication Studies)
    Supervisor: Rudolf Renger

    Charlotte Spencer-Smith
    Topic: Algorithmische Depriorisierung: Nicht-empfohlen-Werden als inhaltsregulierende Maßnahme auf Social-Media-Plattformen (Communication Studies)
    Supervisor: Thomas Steinmaurer

    Martin Ulrich
    Topic: Die Gedanken sind frei? Der Zusammenhang zwischen Ideologie und sozialer Lage (Sociology)
    Supervisor: Beat Fux
    Doctoral viva: 11-20-2023

    Phillip Wamprechtsamer
    Topic: Ambivalenz der Transparenz im Kontext der Digitalisierung: Eine qualitative Studie zur Konstruktion und Bedeutung organisationaler Transparenz in der PR (Communication Studies)
    Supervisor: Peter Winkler

    Carsten Wegscheider
    Topic: Citizens’ Conceptions of Democracy and Support for Radical Populist Parties (Sociology)
    Supervisor: Zoe Lefkofridi
    Doctoral viva: 9-29-2022

  • Faculty

    Ao. Univ. Prof. Dr. Thomas Steinmaurer (DSP Coordinator)

    Assoz. Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Aschauer (Faculty Member)
    Univ. Prof. Dr. Reinhard Heinisch (Faculty Member)
    Univ. Prof. Dr. Zoe Lefkofridi (Faculty Member)
    Univ. Prof. Dr. Josef Trappel (Faculty Member)
    Univ. Prof. Dr. Peter Wnkler (Faculty Member)

    Associate members
    Univ. Prof. Dr. Andreas Koch
    Univ. Ass. Dr. Ursula Maier-Rabler
    Dr. Msc. Nadine Zwiener-Collins

  • DSP Board of Experts

    Prof. Ingolfur Blühdorn, WU Wien, Insitut für Gesellschaftswandel und Nachhaltigkeit, (EU)
    Prof. Mark Elchardus Vrije, Universität Brüssel, Kultursoziologie und Demokratie (EU)
    Prof. Roin Mansell, London School of Economics, Department of Media and Communications (GB)
    Prof. Oscar Mazzoleni, Universität Lausanne, Institut d’études politiques (CH)
    Prof. Steven Saxonberg Universität Bratislava, Politische Soziologie (EU)
    Prof. Swaran Sandhu, Hoschule der Medien Stuttgart, Unternehmenskommunikation (EU)