Master of Advanced Studies in

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Migration as a challenge to democracy

In five units, we introduce participants to relevant social theory, present cutting-edge research findings, and discuss the applications and implications in various hands-on exercises. The module begins with how humans perceive the world and how immigration plays an important role in understanding and classifying the everyday. We then explore the consequences of this with regard to political representation, exclusion, the media, and right-wing populism to underline how migration poses a challenge to democracy.


  • Political representation;
    • We explore social theory to understand how the inclusion of different groups is fundamental to principles of modern democracy. We evoke questions of political representation in Switzerland and internationally to illustrate the challenges to democracy and possible ways out of this.

  • Social relations;
    • We explore how humans perceive the social world, and how stereotypes and attitudes to different groups play a central in this. Relevant social theory of social cohesion and fundamental principles of justice are introduced, and then applied to immigrant integration in a world characterized by diversity.

  • Exclusion;
    • Drawing on state-of-the are evidence from experimental and other social science, we present the extent of social exclusion and discuss underlying causes. We discuss what we can do to overcome discrimination, and apply this to questionnaires used to ‘test’ the integration of immigrants.

  • Media;
    • Drawing on evidence from extensive media studies we examine the role of the media and discuss how they can influence how members of society relate to one another. We examine how the media report on immigrants, and discuss how we can ensure that media coverage does not undermine social cohesion and democracy.

  • Populism.
    • We examine the political consequences of immigration and discuss how right-wing populism constitutes just one possible political outcome. We discuss how right-wing populism affects intergroup relations and can pose a serious challenge to democracy.

Gianni D’Amato
Ruedin Didier