Blog Archive

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Can citizen deliberation address the climate crisis? Not if it is disconnected from politics and policymaking

A large number of national climate assemblies have been set up across Europe to enable citizens to make climate policy recommendations. But do these bodies have any impact? Drawing on new research, John Boswell, Rikki Dean and Graham Smith argue that greater attention should be paid to how these assemblies can be integrated into the world of politics.

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From an Ideological to a Contingent Conceptualisation of Political Process Preferences: A Multidimensional Approach

Next week at the ECPR Annual Conference in Innsbruck I will present my new working paper, which develops a multidimensional framework for understanding the nature of a political process preference. You can download the full paper from this blog post.

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What are “Democratic Innovations”?

I was the guest for the June episode of the new podcast from Goethe University, Talk Social Science To Me. The main theme was to discuss new ways of involving citizens in democracy, but the conversation led us to many topics, ranging from the effects of the pandemic on democratic governance to the role of democracies in the climate crisis. The podcast is now available on Spotify, Youtube and other podcast providers.

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On embedding participatory governance: A new symposium of Critical Policy Studies

Embeddedness is often invoked as a goal for participatory governance, but it tends to remain vaguely defined. So what does embedding participation mean? And how is it achieved? Sonia Bussu, Adrian Bua, Graham Smith and I convened this symposium in Critical Policy Studies in order to explore these questions through case studies from around the world.

Untangling description, deception and denunciation: a linguistic twist to the Science of Democracy

Jean-Paul Gagnon has amassed over 4,000 ‘linguistic artefacts’ into a data mountain of descriptions of democracy. Yet, I note, a sustained consideration of these linguistic artefacts as language is missing from his Science of Democracy and the responses to it.

Leadership and the hidden politics of co-produced research

What are the hidden politics of seeking to co-produce research with stakeholders? What kinds of leadership are common in co-produced research? What trade-offs does each kind of leadership make in addressing issues such as being directive, inclusive, innovative, accountable, open to what emerges and sharing power?

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Some rough, pessimistic thoughts on the political economy problem of climate assemblies

Across advanced democracies citizens’ assemblies on climate change – randomly selected, deliberative initiatives of usually between 100-200 people – are increasingly being adopted in the hope that they can address democratic politics current failures on climate policy. My fear is that, as institutional design solutions to what is more a problem of political economy, these climate assemblies are destined to fail. But I share these rough thoughts in the hope that more optimistic readers might convince me that I am wrong.

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Leadership in Transdisciplinary Knowledge Co-production

How can we broaden the range of actors involved in the solving complex problem of generating sustainable urban communities? A new, open access book on Transdisciplinary Knowledge Co-production gives a detailed account of the methods, with a contribution from Catherine Durose, Beth Perry, Liz Richardson and I on leadership in co-production.

Can Participatory Impeachment Defend Democracy from Partisan Justice?

Why is it that, in the impeachment trial of Donald Trump, his co-conspirators participated as both judge and jury in the process? This would not be an acceptable way to organise a legal trial, so why does it make sense for ‘political trials’? One answer to the question is simply bad institutional design. So how can we redesign our democratic institutions to avoid this situation, where justice, rather than being blind, is determined by partisan blinkers?