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9781910259788 9781910259177 9781910259221 9781910259887
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Publication Date: 31 December 2023
Page Extent: 313
Series: Studies in European Political Science
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The Impacts of Democratic Innovations

By Vincent Jacquet, Matt Ryan, Ramon van der Does

Representative democracy is in crisis. One remedy is to foster citizen participation beyond elections. This has led to the development of democratic innovations such as participatory budgeting and citizens’ assemblies, through which lay citizens can discuss political problems, and make meaningful contributions.

Democratic innovations' critics argue that they fail to truly empower citizens; that they impede democratic representation and efficient government. Advocates assert that democratic innovations make political systems more inclusive and democratic.

Do these institutions matter for policy-making? Do they affect the broader public? What do political leaders do with their recommendations? How can we scrutinise democratic innovations’ impacts? Do they truly transform representation?

This book brings together scholars from a range of disciplines to offer innovative ideas to develop research, improve our knowledge of the impacts of democratic innovations, and help us respond more effectively to contemporary democratic challenges.


This book is a courageous intellectual project. It answers a simple question to which there is no simple answer: do democratic innovations matter after these novel processes of citizen engagement conclude? The answer is that it depends on whom you ask. By bringing together a diverse group of scholars specialising in democratic innovations in Europe, South America, North America, and Australia, the book offers a fresh and systematic take on some of the enduring questions in the field. -- Nicole Curato,University of Canberra

Do democratic innovations — new ways of engaging citizens in governance — make any difference? This question is enormously challenging owing to the diversity of processes, expectations, political cultures, and institutional locations. This collection is the first broad comparative assessment of the impacts of democratic innovation, offering new middle-range theories and measurements. A crucially important step forward for the field. -- Mark Warren, University of British Columbia

Vincent Jacquet is a F.R.S.-FNRS Research Associate Professor at the University of Namur. His main research interests are participatory governance, transformations of democracy, and local politics.

Matt Ryan is Associate Professor in Governance and Public Policy at the University of Southampton. He is a UKRI Future Leaders Fellow, Turing Fellow, and a Director of the Web Science Institute and the Centre for Democratic Futures. He leads the Rebooting Democracy project.

Ramon van der Does is a PhD candidate at Université catholique de Louvain. His main research interests are deliberative democratic theory, democratic innovation, and green political thought and action. His work has appeared in journals such as Public Administration, Political Science Research and Methods, and Political Studies.

Fátima Ávila Acosta is a doctoral researcher at the Berlin Graduate School of Social Sciences at Humboldt University. Her doctoral research focuses on social perceptions and reactions to violence against women in politics. Her research interests also include democratic innovations, participatory democracy, and gender equality and political representation.

Jayne Carrick is a Research Associate within the South Yorkshire Sustainability Centre at the University of Sheffield. Jayne’s research is driven by improving participation in political decision making, particularly around engaging the public and stakeholders in environmental and climate change policy making. Previous research has explored the use and impact of democratic innovations such as citizens assemblies, including Climate Assembly UK.

Stephen Elstub is a Professor of Democratic Politics, Newcastle University. He has research interests in participatory and deliberative democracy and the role it can play in environmental politics. He is a member of the Tyndall Centre and a Fellow of the Centre of Deliberative Democracy and Global Governance. He is the series editor for DeGruyter on Citizens’ Assemblies and Mini-Publics, co-editor of the journal Representation: Journal of Representative Democracy, and has co-edited several books including Handbook of Democratic Innovation and Governance (Edward Elgar 2019).

Selen A. Ercan is a Professor of Political Science and Director at the Centre for Deliberative Democracy and Global Governance at the University of Canberra. Her research interests include theory and practice of deliberative democracy, identity politics and multiculturalism, and alternative forms of political participation. Her recent publications include Research Methods in Deliberative Democracy (with Asenbaum, Curato, and Mendonça; Oxford University Press, 2022), Mending Democracy: Democratic Repair in Disconnected Times (with Hendriks and Boswell; Oxford University Press, 2020), Deliberative Systems in Theory and Practice (with Elstub and Mendonça; Routledge, 2019).

Andrea Felicetti is Assistant Professor at the Department of Political Science, Law And International Studies, University of Padua. His main research interests are theories of democracy, innovation in governance and social movements. He has published on these topics in several international journals.

José Luis Fernández-Martínez is a postdoctoral researcher at the Institute of Advanced Social Studies (Spanish National Research Council-CSIC). His research focuses on what do citizens want from participatory democracy (process preferences) and what happens when they decide to participate (process evaluation). He has published in journal such as Political Studies, EJPR, Acta Politica. Currently, his main project (AUTODEMO) focuses on citizens attitudes towards automated collective decision-making processes.

Joan Font is Research professor at the Institute for Advanced Social Studies, IESA-CSIC. His research interests include the advantages and pitfalls of every system to incorporate citizen preferences into policy-making. His books include Font, J, della Porta, D and Sintomer, Y (eds) (2014): Participatory democracy in Southern Europe: causes, characteristics and consequences, Rowman and Littlefield and Font, J and Méndez, M (eds) (2013): Surveying ethnic minorities and immigrant populations: methodological challenges and research strategies, Amsterdam University Press.

John Gastil is distinguished Professor of Communication Arts and Sciences, Public Policy and Political Science at Pennsylvania State University. He studies political deliberation and group decision making across a range of contexts. His work on the Citizens’ Initiative Review has helped evaluate an exciting new form of public deliberation that should improve initiative elections. His Jury and Democracy Project has investigated, and hopefully helped vindicate, the jury system as a valuable civic educational institution. His work with the Cultural Cognition Project has demonstrated the ways in which our deeper values bias how we learn about issues and form opinions.

Brigitte Geissel is Professor of Political Science and Political Sociology and Head of the Research Unit ‘Democratic Innovations’ at Goethe University Frankfurt a.M. Her research interests include democratic innovations, new forms of governance and political actors (new social movements, associations, civil society, parties, political elites, citizens). She received several awards including a Democracy Fellowship from Harvard University‘s Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation. Recent publication: The Future of Self-governing, Thriving Democracies (Routledge 2023, open access).

Guillaume Gourgues is a researcher and lecturer in political science at the University of Lyon 2. His research focuses on the links between participation and conflict in public policies and corporate governance. He is particularly interested in the public/private non-democratic uses of participatory procedures and the ability of citizens and employees to resist them.

Nicolas W. Jager is an Assistant Professor with the Public Administration and Policy Group at Wageningen University and Research, the Netherlands, and an Associate Junior Fellow at the Hanse Wissenschaftskolleg – Institute for Advanced Study Delmenhorst, Germany. His research interests include issues of sustainability and climate policy, public participation and collaborative governance, and institutional change and stasis.

Katherine R. Knobloch is an Associate Professor in the Department of Communication Studies and the Associate Director of the Center for Public Deliberation at Colorado State University. Her teaching, research, and practice focus on public participation and deliberative democracy, particularly on the design and impact of community engagement programs. With John Gastil, she is the author of Hope for Democracy: How Citizens Can Bring Reason Back into Politics (Oxford, 2020).

Alice Mazeaud is a researcher and lecturer in political science at the University of La Rochelle. Her research focuses on how public action is transformed in relation to participatory and environmental imperatives. She is particularly interested in the issues and effects of the professionalization of citizen participation on public action and democracy.

Ank Michels is Associate Professor at the Utrecht University School of Governance. Her research interests include democratic innovations, participatory and deliberative democracy, and new forms of governance. In her current research project, ‘Revitalizing Democracy for Resilient Societies’, she studies the effects of combinations of deliberative and plebiscitary instruments.

Simon Niemeyer is Professor and co-founder of the Centre for Deliberative Democracy and Global Governance at University of Canberra. His research covers the broad field of deliberative democracy, with a focus on the use of empirical research to inform its theoretical foundations and understand how they translate into practical democratic innovations.

John Parkinson is Professor of Social and Political Philosophy at Maastricht University and Adjunct Professor of Politics in the Centre for Deliberative Democracy and Global Governance, University of Canberra. One of the originators of the deliberative systems approach, his publications include Deliberating in the Real World (Oxford, 2006), Deliberative Systems with Jane Mansbridge (Cambridge, 2012), and Mapping and Measuring Deliberation with André Bächtiger.

Lucy J. Parry is a senior research associate at the Centre for Deliberative Democracy and Global Governance at the University of Canberra. Her research interests include deliberative mini-publics and other forms of democratic innovation, deliberative systems, representation and Q methodology. Her current research project examines the ethics and integrity of deliberative mini-publics.

Thamy Pogrebinschi is a senior researcher at WZB Berlin Social Science Center and a faculty member of the Berlin Graduate School of Social Sciences at Humboldt University Berlin. She was the founder and coordinator of the LATINNO project. She held visiting positions at Oxford University, Harvard University, Goethe University Frankfurt, among others. Her most recent book Innovating Democracy? The Means and Ends of Citizen Participation in Latin America, was published in 2023 by Cambridge University Press.

Graham Smith is Professor of Politics at the Centre for the Study of Democracy, University of Westminster and Chair of the Knowledge Network on Climate Assemblies (KNOCA). He is a specialist in democratic theory and practice. His publications include Democratic Innovations: Designing Institutions for Citizen Participation (Cambridge, 2009), Can Democracy Safeguard the Future? (Polity, 2021) and Democracy in a Pandemic: Participation in Response to Crisis (University of Westminster Press, 2021).

Paolo Spada is a lecturer in Collective Intelligence at the University of Southampton, UK, and holds additional affiliation at the School of Collective Intelligence in Morocco, and at the Centre for Social Studies in Portugal. His main research interests are empirical studies of the diffusion and impact of collective intelligence processes.

Julien Vrydagh is a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Stuttgart, working on the ERC funded project Designing Democracy on Mars and Earth. He has a joint PhD from the Vrije Universiteit Brussel and UCLouvain. His PhD thesis investigated the influence of deliberative minipublics on public decisions. His broader research interests include democratic theory, citizen participation, systems thinking, and public policy.

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