Democracy, Politics, and the Popular: A Podium Discussion at the Brisbane Powerhouse. August 31st at 6pm.

Around the world, politics is experiencing a period of substantial transformation and uncertainty. Leaders ranging from Donald Trump to Rodrigo Duterte are bypassing the mainstream media to take their messages directly to their social media followers – and those messages often break with established conventions and actively reject democratic processes and challenge media scrutiny. Meanwhile, citizens engage in connective action through social media to create a popular discourse that is often equally critical of both established and emerging political forces, and is conducted in part through the everyday circulation of irreverent memes and viral messages. This, too, challenges the democratic consensus: on the one hand, it promotes more direct modes of democratic participation, while on the other, it highlights the potential susceptibility of such processes to disruption from ‘fake news’ and other propaganda.

How do we make sense of these developments? Do they represent an inexorable slide into a new era of political populism, where facts are drowned out by ideology and ‘strong’ leaders seek to hollow out democratic checks and balances? Or are today’s connected citizens smart enough to see through such bluster, finding new ways to combat misinformation and coordinate protests against leaders who threaten democracy? And most crucially: what role do digital and social media play in all this? What can we learn from current developments in the region and around the world?

Join us for a QUT Digital Media Research Centre podium discussion involving a number of key scholars in the field, followed by drinks and nibbles.

· Aim Sinpeng, Department of Government and International Relations, University of Sydney

· Ross Tapsell, College of Asia and the Pacific, Australian National University

· Johan Lidberg, School of Media, Film, and Journalism, Monash University

· Tim Highfield, Digital Media Research Centre, Queensland University of Technology

This is a RSVP only event. Please join us by registering on the Eventbrite page. For the information on parking and directions, please visit the Brisbane Powerhouse website. For further questions about the event, please contact the Digital Media Research Centre at