Book launch: Digital Technology and Democratic Theory

January 21st, 2021 - 10:00 am to 11:15 am

Online event

Watch the video of the book launch

Join Stanford PACS and Data & Society for a special book launch. One of the most far-reaching transformations in our era is the wave of digital technologies rolling over—and upending—nearly every aspect of life. Work and leisure, family and friendship, community and citizenship have all been modified by now-ubiquitous digital tools and platforms. Digital Technology and Democratic Theory look closely at one significant facet of our rapidly evolving digital lives: how technology is radically changing our lives as citizens and participants in democratic governments.

To understand these transformations, this book brings together contributions by scholars from multiple disciplines to wrestle with the question of how digital technologies shape, reshape, and affect fundamental questions about democracy and democratic theory. As expectations have whiplashed—from Twitter optimism in the wake of the Arab Spring to Facebook pessimism in the wake of the 2016 US election—the time is ripe for a more sober and long-term assessment. How should we take stock of digital technologies and their promise and peril for reshaping democratic societies and institutions? To answer, this volume broaches the most pressing technological changes and issues facing democracy as a philosophy and an institution.

About Data & Society
Data & Society is an independent nonprofit research organization. We believe that empirical evidence should directly inform the development and governance of new technology. We study the social implications of data and automation, producing original research to ground informed, evidence-based public debate about emerging technology.

About Stanford PACS
The Stanford Center on Philanthropy and Civil Society develops and shares knowledge to improve philanthropy, strengthen civil society, and effect social change. We connect students, scholars, and practitioners and publish the preeminent journal Stanford Social Innovation Review.

Edited by:

  • Lucy Bernholz, Senior Research Scholar at the Stanford Center on Philanthropy and Civil Society, Director of the Digital Civil Society Lab at Stanford PACS
  • Helene Landemore, Associate Professor of Political Science at Yale University
  • Rob Reich, Professor of Political Science and at the Graduate School of Education at Stanford University, Faculty Co-Director of Stanford PACS

Contributing Authors:

  • Joshua Cohen, author of Book of Numbers
  • Archon Fung, Ford Foundation Professor of Democracy and Citizenship at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government
  • Seeta Peña Gangadharan, Associate Professor in the Department of Media and Communications at the London

School of Economics and Political Science

  • Mike Ananny, Associate Professor of Communication and Journalism at USC Annenberg
  • Robyn Caplan, Researcher at Data & Society, Ph.D. Candidate at Rutgers University
  • Henry Farrell, NF Agora Professor at Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies
  • Melissa Schwartzberg, Silver Professor of Politics at New York University
  • David Lee, Assistant Professor of Computational Media at UC Santa Cruz
  • Margaret Levi, Director, Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences, Professor of Political Science and Senior Fellow at the Woods Institute for the Environment at Stanford University
  • John Seely Brown, Former Chief Scientist of Xerox Corporation, Visiting Scholar at USC
  • Julia Cagé, Assistant Professor of Economics at Sciences Po
  • Bryan Ford, Decentralized/Distributed Systems (DEDIS) lab at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne


  • Lucy Bernholz - Senior Research Scholar at Stanford University’s Center on Philanthropy and Civil Society and Director of the Digital Civil Society Lab
  • Robyn Caplan - Researcher at Data & Society, and a PhD Candidate at Rutgers University
  • Archon Fung - Winthrop Laflin McCormack Professor of Citizenship and Self-Government, Harvard Kennedy School
  • Seeta Peña Gangadharan - Associate Professor, Department of Media and Communications, LSE
  • Rob Reich - Professor of political science, Stanford University, Director of the Center for Ethics in Society and co-director of the Center on Philanthropy and Civil Society