Workings of Democracy

International Conference

Workings of Democracy: Practices, Norms and Understanding

University of Iceland
May 27–29, 2015

Keynote speaker:
(University of Toronto)

Full program


This conference was organised to facilitate critical and conceptual analyses of democratic theory and practices. In particular, the aim was to bring together perspectives on key issues such as democratic representation, accountability, political participation and institutional venues for deliberation. Furthermore, the aim of this conference was to evaluate the role rational deliberations could have in improving democratic practices in Western liberal democracies and to investigate whether discursive competencies could be further systematically introduced into the contemporary democratic landscapes.

In 2013, the Centre for Ethics at the University of Iceland organised a three year inter-disciplinary research project, “How Does Democracy Work in Iceland? Practices, norms and understanding”. The general conjecture of the research project is that the crucial questions on the workings of democracy are about how legislation and public policy is prepared, deliberated, communicated and accounted for both in the political and public spheres.

One of the objectives of this research project is to bring current international discussion and normative research on the challenges facing contemporary democracy to Iceland. Hosting an international conference is a major step towards this objective. The conference is open to researchers from all fields of human and social sciences. We invite theoretical, comparative and empirical approaches on the following themes:

  • Models of democracy, e.g. liberal, republican and deliberative
  • Democratic role and standing of media
  • Consensus decision-making
  • Constitutions in a time of crisis
  • Accountability and transparency
  • Preparation of policy and legislation
  • The future of democratic education and education for democracy

Recordings from lectures can be found here

Photos can be found here

For further information please contact the organiser Henry Alexander Henrysson ( or Professor Vilhjalmur Arnason (, chairman of the Centre for Ethics and principal investigator of the research project.

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