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What does BIBU do?

BIBU – Tackling Biases and Bubbles in Participation – is a research project that explores how the global flux of economic restructuring, urbanisation, and migration, challenges Western democracies. The BIBU consortium is a unique interdisciplinary research project funded by the Strategic Research Council of the Academy of Finland, and explores how globalisation and structural changes affect political participation, politics, and policy-making processes. With comprehensive analyses, BIBU examines both citizens’ and decision-makers’ political capacities and emotions.

BIBU investigates which demographic groups encounter participatory biases that prevent them from making their voices heard. We also aim to discover whether citizens operate in bubbles where their views are hidden from broader society.

Citizens and voters are becoming more mobile than ever before, amidst a process of perpetual change in which new political identities and groups – the winners and losers of globalisation – can be born. Structural change disturbs occupational structures and changes professional life, and the large and politically strong social classes of rural and industrial societies are being replaced by a broad middle class. New divisions in society may arise between those in full-time, permanent employment and those in temporary employment; between rural and urban areas; between older and younger generations; and between immigrant groups and those who have lived longer in the country.

BIBU examines what is happening within the middle class; we want to understand whether the upper classes are prospering from globalisation and distancing themselves from broader society, or whether we are witnessing the formation of a new lower class of those excluded from the benefits of globalisation.

BIBU also develops democratic innovations that increase citizens’ opportunities for participation. We experiment with methods like digital policy-making platforms and hearings; participatory budgeting; reconciliatory methods; digital diplomacy; and empowering digital storytelling for groups that feel side-lined. The aim is to make Finland a democracy innovation incubator, from which best-practices can be scaled globally.