Learn to build a world where everyone belongs. Take free classes at OBI University.   Start Now

The Democracy & Belonging Forum is a network and research hub that aims to connect and resource civic actors in Europe and North America to more effectively counter identity-based fragmentation and authoritarian populism by bridging across lines of difference. In support of that work, the Forum also undertakes research on the tactics of authoritarian populists, particularly their approach to gender issues and the climate crisis, among other topics.

While concerns around democracy and political fragmentation and those related to social justice are often framed as separate challenges, they are in fact deeply intertwined. The issues around which the far right is stoking division (such as gender identity, demographic change, and migration) are part of a larger strategy to advance anti-democratic ideologies globally. Indeed, over the past decade, newly dominant authoritarian-populist parties around the world have developed from mere opposition actors to powerful political players, often by deftly exploiting existing fears and tensions within the democratic majority.

Perhaps most concerning, this reality is not just emerging out of a vacuum, but is being actively developed and resourced by strategists in Europe, the US, and elsewhere, as increasingly intertwined relationships on the authoritarian right continue to strengthen globally. As we see in many cases, they are finding the greatest success by inflaming issues of identity—conflicts which are playing out by groups “bonding” inward towards perceived safety (and “breaking” with those outside their in-group), rather than bridging outwards to expand who is in coalition against a shared threat.

The Forum aims to approach this challenge beyond the binary of either/or—focusing either on strengthening democracy and depolarization or on advancing belonging for marginalized groups. Rather, we must bridge lines of difference (political, ideological, identity, and geographic) in order to build diverse coalitions that defend and advance the rights of those who are most vulnerable to attacks from anti-democratic actors. We take seriously the demands of democracy, coalition-building, and de-fragmentation as well as the demands of belonging and social justice.

 Learn more about the Democracy & Belonging Forum and get involved here.

Sign up to the Democracy & Belonging enewsletter for updates on this work.