Participation and Unconditional Basic Income (PUBI)

Political participation requires a certain degree of time sovereignty. It is often argued that representative democracy is unavoidable, as citizens do not have enough time to participate politically. Since most people have to work in order to make a living, they do not have the leisure to inform themselves about politics, and therefore they cannot meaningfully participate in political decision-making processes. According to many critics of direct democracy, that is the main reason why parliamentary representation is needed. The introduction of an UBI would make this argument less plausible. Due to the fact that nobody would be forced to work, citizens could have more spare time to participate actively in political life, as well as to initiate referendums and political innovations.

Democracy gives every person of voting age the right to decide independently and conscientiously about the legal rules and political future of their fellow citizens. The introduction of an UBI, in turn, would increasingly allow people to seize the opportunity to participate politically, understanding this possibility as a part of their own life. This raises the following questions: Is the UBI the consequence of a contemporary understanding of democracy? Does it actually enable a participatory and inclusive democratic practice? And can participation and UBI mutually serve to empower people politically?

The PUBI team, consisting of political activists and scholars in the fields of political philosophy and cultural philosophy, addresses these and other questions. The team explores the relationship between participation and UBI, and conducts research on its intellectual and discursive history. At the same time, the PUBI team looks for ways out of the crisis of representative democracy. The results of their work will be frequently discussed in workshops and conferences, and the conclusions of these events will be published. In close cooperation with the Transfer Team, the Research Team develops a contemporary philosophical conception of participatory democracy. Besides, they analyze the UBI especially in the horizon of a cultural philosophy of possibilities as an instrument for enabling political participation. The main focus of the first project phase lies on the dissertation of PUBI research associate Leon Hartmann (working title: “The futures of democracy. On the relationship between participation and UBI – history of theory and theory of discourse”).

Research Team

PD Dr. Sebastian Kaufmann
Heidelberg Academy of Sciences and Humanities Research Center “Nietzsche Commentary
University of Freiburg

Prof. Dr. Andreas Urs Sommer
W-3 professorship in philosophy with focus on philosophy of culture / academy professorship in cooperation with the Heidelberg Academy of Sciences
Philosophy Seminar of the University of Freiburg

Transfer Team

Susanne Wiest
Petition for Unconditional Basic Income, 2020 (Together with Prof. B. Neumärker, Model NGE) and 2008
Basic income is feasible” 
We make democracy