How it works

In this video, I outline my approach to democratic theorizing.

Democratic theorizing follows 9 guiding principles


Democratic theorizing shifts the focus to under-represented voices in public discourse. Both the choice of a research topic and participant invitation are oriented toward inclusion.


Theory is developed in an open dialogue between research participants, who are regarded as co-theorists, and the lead theorist(s). Co-theorists are seen as collaborators who interpret the world and co-generate meaning. This requires open and active listening on behalf of lead theorists.


Lead theorists move recursively between original data, their own interpretations, and the interpretations of their co-theorists, continuously checking and updating emerging concepts.


Lead theorists immerse themselves into the field. Engaging with the lived experiences of the under-represented requires familiarity with cultural backgrounds, milieus, and perspectives.


Lead theorists assume a position of public humility. Instead of engaging hierarchically from a privileged knowledge position, they assume the role of enablers who provide and manage an infrastructure for common theorizing. They acknowledge their particular positionality and limited understanding and are open to learn.


Lead theorists constantly check their own positionality. They reflect on their class, race, and gender position, on their intersectional identity and the privileges their societal status might entail.


Throughout the process, insights and preliminarily emerging concepts are shared with co-theorists and potentially with a wider public. Regular updates make the process transparent, provide co-theorists with opportunities to intervene, and thus strengthen their agency in the process.  


Democratic theorizing benefits from the use of diverse methods, theories, and data sources. This approach also lends itself to inter- and transdisciplinary thinking and is open to new, innovative, and unconventional methods. 


Democratic theorizing takes a transformative outlook. It asks what impact the output of the theorizing project can have in the world and how it connects to concrete transformative practices. Whether as contribution to public discourse or as guide to practices on the ground, democratic theorizing is committed to more just and democratic futures. 

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