Research Projects

House of Participation

Impact through Digital Interaction

Status: Ongoing

The question of how digital formats can support citizens’ inclusive and sustainable participation in participatory processes continues to gain relevance. The German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) chose the motto „Nachgefragt“ (in English: “Inquiry”) for the Science Year 2022, thus putting the topic of participation in the spotlight. Also, with the emergence of AI models such as ChatGPT, the fight against disinformation and the resulting polarization have become a central social and political task.

With the research focus Digital Citizen Participation, the FZI is picking up on this impulse and underlining the importance of research on opportunities, challenges, and the design of digital participation formats as well as on investigating and fighting disinformation and social polarization. The research focus includes the House of Participation (HoP) initiative – the FZI competence center addressing digital citizen participation, disinformation, and digital democracies.

The FZI’s success story covers past and current projects (for example TakePart, PAAS, Bioökonomie 4.0, VIRTUS, DeFaktS, and SOSEC) on issues of digital participation, disinformation, and digital democracies in different contexts. With the HoP, this gathered expertise is bundled in an institutional framework and processed in four impact areas: The vision is to promote (digital) participation in the public sector , including its administrative bodies, in organizations and companies, in science, and the field of technology development and innovation.

As an entry point for decision-makers from politics, civil society, business, and science, the FZI enters into an intensive dialog with the House of Participation about forms and uses of digital participation and offers to provide scientific support for real participation projects.

Particularly today, I see it as urgently necessary, both economically and socially, to let people participate in important decisions – be it in the workplace, social life, the cultural sector and, above all, in political matters. That's why we need to understand much better how we can use digitization for this purpose as well. We call this Digital Citizen Participation.

Portrait von Christof Weinhardt
Prof. Dr. Christof Weinhardt
Scientific Director at the FZI

About HoP

Social transformation processes, such as in the mobility and energy sectors but also in planning more sustainable and connected cities, merit involving the population to search for and develop solutions jointly. The type of participation that makes sense depends not only on the individual areas but also on the issue’s goal and complexity. The shift of many participation processes into the digital space has additionally expanded the possible fields of action and created new demands for social exchange, inclusion, and user experience. The design of participation processes and suitable infrastructure is crucial for initiators and participants to have a successful experience. In this context, as a scientific research institution, the HoP supports practice partners with its expertise and offers consulting and scientific support for participation projects: How can digital technologies help to realize participation concepts? How can challenges to direct democracy be mastered and opportunities exploited? The HoP’s expertise lies in research, design, development, and evaluation of digital participation processes and platforms. As a competence center, it promotes networking actors in digital participation and strengthens the scientific and social discourse on digital participation.


As an umbrella organization, the House of Participation bundles the research expertise of the FZI on topics of digital participation and participatory support systems and acts as a contact for interested parties from politics, civil society, science, and business. For the House of Participation as an initiative of the FZI, scientists from the disciplines of business informatics, computer science, political science, and psychology are involved with expertise in the areas of:

  • Market and platform design
  • Data analytics
  • Digital experience
  • User behavior
  • Requirements analysis
  • Explainable and ethical AI
  • Machine learning
  • Evaluation, behavioral and acceptance studies

In times of multiple crises, disinformation is a game of fear played by both individuals and state actors. This can be seen, for example, in the Russian war of aggression against Ukraine or the war in the Middle East. Yet, disinformation is also becoming an increasing problem in Germany. The HoP addresses disinformation and investigates technical solutions in numerous projects to further strengthen digital democracies.

The House of Participation also publishes the HoPcast – a podcast on current HoP topics from the fields of participation and democracy with prominent guests from research, business, and politics.

Research focus

Digital Democracy and Participation

In the Digital Democracy and Participation research focus the spotlight is on inclusive, modern and democratic forms of digital participation as well as the opportunities and challenges of digital democracy.


Dr. Jonas Fegert

Head of House of Participation
Division: Information Process Engineering

Further exemplary projects