Jasper Johns, Flag (detail), 1954-55 (MoMA)

Photo courtesy Steven Zucker via flickr

About us

Who counts as a “real” American? What is required of a “good” citizen? Is American democracy flourishing or floundering? In today’s deeply polarized America, the answers to these questions depend on who you ask, but the ways that people answer them matter for us all. The Meanings of Democracy Lab, founded and directed by sociologist Dr. Ruth Braunstein, engages students and partners in collaborative research and discussion about the contested moral and cultural foundations of American democratic life. Current projects focus on the moral meanings of taxpaying and on battles over American identity and history.

Contact us

If you are interested in participating in or collaborating with the Meanings of Democracy Lab, please contact
Dr. Ruth Braunstein at ruth.braunstein@uconn.edu.

What’s New

  • Introducing our Fall 2022 Team
    This Fall, the Meanings of Democracy Lab welcomes a new cohort of Undergraduate Research Assistants! Gloria Dickson  Harrison Hua  Brianna Monte The team brings a diverse mix of research skills and interests, and will be sharing the results of their work together throughout the semester through the Lab’s website and social media channels, so stay […]
  • Lab featured in UConn Today
    UConn Today has written an article featuring the Meanings of Democracy Lab and its director Dr. Ruth Braunstein, with commentary from winners of the Meanings of America Contest and Dr. Susan Herbst. Check it out!
  • Nicholas Xenophontos discusses “Meanings of America”
    Who gets to define what “America” means? Politicians get a lot of air time. We wanted to hear what “the people” think. So in Fall 2021, we launched a contest asking UConn students to tell us what “America” means to them. We received a diverse array of responses in the form of short essays, creative writing, […]

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