Blog Archive

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Five Lessons for Democracy From the Covid-19 Pandemic: An International Evaluation of Democracy in Crises

Who could have guessed, even one year ago, that America’s postal service would be central to the US Presidential Election? That political party conventions would become online events? Or that protests could be suppressed in the name of biosecurity and protesters could be fined for not wearing face masks? The COVID-19 pandemic has had myriad unpredictable impacts on democratic institutions around the world…


Bürgerrat Demokratie: Abschlussbericht der wissenschaftlichen Evaluation

Der Abschlussbericht fasst die Ergebnisse der wissenschaftlichen Evaluation des Beteiligungsverfahrens „Bürgerrat Demokratie“ durch die Forschungsstelle Demokratische Innovationen der Goethe-Universität Frankfurt am Main zusammen, die den Beteiligungsprozess ab Juni 2019 bis November 2019 begleitete.  


What is Democratic Theory? A New Special Issue

A new special issue of the journal Democratic Theory, co-edited with Jean-Paul Gagnon and Hans Asenbaum, tackles the question of “What is democratic theory?”. It is a surprisingly infrequently posed question in the field. With contributions from Michael Saward, John Keane, Carole Pateman, Graham Smith and many others.

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NHS Citizen and what it tells us about designing democratic innovations as deliberative systems

Rikki Dean, John Boswell and Graham Smith analyse an attempt to design a systems-oriented democratic innovation: the NHS Citizen initiative. They write that, while the initiative pioneered some cutting-edge participatory design, it failed to resolve well-known obstacles to institutionalisation. They argue that similar projects must evolve strategies to meet such challenges.

How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the EU Referendum (sort of)

When discussing the EU referendum it’s become fashionable  to criticise David Cameron for taking a dangerous gamble with the UK’s prosperity for narrow political advantage. The argument runs that the decision on whether to stay in or exit the EU is so complex that it should be left to political elites. Here, Rikki Dean argues that this is old-fashioned thinking. The referendum is not the problem – the campaigns are.


There is more than one way to involve the public in policy decisions

Imagine you are a civil servant. You have just convinced your somewhat skeptical colleagues that your new policy initiative should incorporate extensive public participation in its design process. You now have some tough choices to make: who is going to participate in the process, for example? You know that if you keep participation open to all, then the process will be criticized within your department for just involving the usual suspects. But if you restrict participation, to a randomly selected group for instance, then you know there are some influential policy NGOs who will be vocal about their exclusion…