Funding: Gerda Henkel Foundation
Investigators: Shahram Akbarzadeh, Ihsan Yilmaz, Zahid Ahmed and Mahmoud Pargoo
In a three-year project on ‘Digital technology and the future of democracy in the Muslim world’, the team will investigate the impact of smart digital technologies on the prospect of democracy in Iran, Turkey, Pakistan and Egypt. Smart digital technologies have had a mixed effect on the prospect of democracy throughout the world. They have contributed to de-centralization of previously powerful and often monopolistic mass media by enabling citizens to advance their independent voices, empowered them through more effective political communication and organization of dissent, and given them easier access to governments and politicians. On the other hand, the depth and extent of the available data on citizens to governments and big-tech companies, and the surveillance capabilities they provide, has created a real risk of digital policing and manipulation. This paradoxical impact has been felt in the Muslim world, with the widespread adoption and popularity of digital technologies among both people and governments over the past two decades.