About me

Hans Asenbaum is PhD candidate and visiting lecturer at the Centre for the Study of Democracy at the University of Westminster in London. His work addresses questions of inclusion and equality in new participatory spaces (democratic innovations) created both by social movements and state actors. It investigates the role of social identities and the effects of anonymity in online and offline spaces. His research interests include empirical participation and democracy studies and theoretical debates on participatory, deliberative, and radical democracy. His current PhD project is supervised by Prof. Graham Smith and Dr. Matthew Fluck.

Hans is associate of the Centre for Deliberative Democracy and Global Governance at the University of Canberra, where he also was a visiting researcher in February and March 2017. Since late 2017 he is a convenor of the Participatory and Deliberative Democracy specialist group of the Political Studies Association.

Hans completed his Master degree in political science at the University of Vienna, Austria and studied in New York (City University New York) and Krasnodar, Russia (Kuban State University).


Since April 2013 Scientific Online Tutor of the FernUniversität in Hagen, Germany, Master Studies Political Science “Governance”: Teaching Courses: “Governanace – An Introduction”, “Regional Governance”, “Foundations of Governance Analysis”

September – January 2016 Seminar "Democratic Innovations", Bachelor Studies Politics and International Relations, University of Westminster, London

March 2015 – July 2015 Seminar “Democracy and Democratic Innovation in Post-Socialist Eastern Europe”, Bachelor Studies Political Science, University of Vienna

October 2013 – January 2014 Seminar “Socialism, State Socialism, Democracy – Authoritarian and Emancipatory Tendencies”, Bachelor Studies Political Science, University of Vienna

July 2013 Seminar “Parlamentarism”, FernUniversität Hagen, Nuremberg, Germany, Bachelor Studies Political Science, together with Nils Brockmann

March – July 2011 Tutor for the lecture „The Philosophy of Democracy“ by Prof Dr Erwin Bader, Institute of Philosophy, University of Vienna


Subject to Change: Anonymity, Democracy and Inclusion in Participatory Spaces on the Internet

My PhD thesis explores ways of enhancing democratic qualities within participatory spaces, such as mini-publics, participatory budgets, occupied squares, civil society organizations and the like. Specifically, it investigates the potential contribution of online anonymity. Curiously, while anonymity is central to the act of voting in liberal democracies, it has so far not been conceptually grounded in democratic theory. And while the workings of anonymity are explored empirically in various disciplines like psychology and communication studies, political science has yet to contribute to these investigations and link empirical insights to concepts of democracy. Thus, this PhD thesis contributes to filling this gap both on a theoretical and an empirical level by asking the question: What are the effects of anonymity in participatory spaces?

Scholio: Improving Public Discourse in News Media Comments

As a research assistant for Professor Graham Smith, I am currently working on the Scholio project funded by the HCPL program. The Scholio project aims to redesign public discourse in online news comments to promote more humble and inclusive qualities. I have authored a literature review for the project https://www.scholio.net/publications/ that indicates how the visual design of the interface of online news comments greatly effects humility, the expression of mutual respect, and discussion quality. Over the coming months we will conduct a large-scale experiment to explore how online argumentation mapping tools, which arrange online discussions according to content rather than chronologically, may contribute to humility in online discussions. It will also investigate whether empathy inducement can promote humility.

Participedia: Strengthening Democracy Through Shared Knowledge

Since 2015 I'm contributing to the global research network and crowd-sourcing project Participedia. Participedia provides a website where researchers, practitioners and students collect cases of participation in democratic innovations and social movements. This data collection of currently more than 1.400 cases, methods and organizations is analyzed by researchers collaborating on the project. Participedia is based on a collaboration of Harvard University, the University of British Columbia, the University of Westminster and others.