New research articles on democracy from Policy & Politics: free to download until 20 September

BROWN_SarahSarah Brown,
Journal Manager of Policy & Politics

In celebration of APSA’s Conference theme this year on democracy and its discontents, we bring you the latest and best of our research on that topic which is free to access until 20 September 2018. Just click on the hyperlinks below to go straight to the download page for each article.

To whet your appetite, here are three highlights from our range of articles on democracy, all of which aim to enhance our understanding of its importance.

Our first and most recent article is Gerry Stoker’s treatise on Can the governance paradigm survive the rise of populism? In it, he proposes that the governance paradigm has provided a dominant way of thinking about how to govern, and found reflection in practice with the increased use of partnerships, networks and markets to deliver public services and programmes. However with the recent emergence of populism as a political force, this has called into question the thinking behind the governance paradigm and some of its favoured tools for governing. Populism sees the task of governing in very different terms to that of the advocates and practitioners of governance. He explores the populist challenge to governance, demonstrating that gaps in its analysis of a changed environment has left the governance paradigm potentially open to populist attack. He suggests how the governance paradigm might have to adapt in order to to survive. He argues:

If the governance paradigm is to take on populism politically it needs to change its political mantra from an argument that expresses the democratic value of governance as primarily based on the idea that networks are a smart way of governing in a complex world. The claim should not be that governance is ‘smart’ but rather that it can avoid ‘stupid’. Urbinati (2014) argues that the only plausible democratic promise is not that people can rule but that they can eventually change things they do not like. Governance procedures then need to be promoted as open to revision; backed by a recognition that they can develop faults – networks can become too closed and markets can become too controlled by a narrow set of interests. To be open to revision is a better answer to claims of dissatisfaction with political processes than a dubious claim of having achieved smartness. Networks and markets as forms of governing need to be defended not as stable parts of the governing system but as constantly open to revision through sunset clauses, periodic reviews and stringent accountability.”

Our second highlighted article on Public deliberation in an era of communicative plenty is by Selen Ercan, Carolyn Hendriks and John Dryzek. It introduces and develops the concept of ‘communicative plenty’ to capture the implications of the increasing volume of communication, both online and face-to-face, in contemporary democracies. Drawing on recent systems thinking in deliberative democracy, the article argues that communicative plenty can offer a viable context for large-scale public deliberation provided that: i) the spaces for voice and expression are accompanied by sufficient spaces of reflection and listening; and that ii) collective decisions involve sequencing of first expression, then listening and then reflection. To substantiate this proposal, two cases where conventional democratic practices were modified either formally or informally to promote greater listening and reflection are subjected to close empirical analysis. The analysis reveals that designing spaces of reflection and listening is a practical means to enhance public deliberation and so democracy, particularly in contexts vulnerable to an overload of expression and the risks to the democratic process of the overwhelming ‘noise’ of communicative plenty.

Our third and final highlighted article by Adrian Vatter, Bianca Rousselot and Thomas Milic, aspires to develop a new research agenda for the input and output effects of direct democracy.

Based on a wide-ranging review of the existing literature, it provides an original, state-of-the-art analysis of the field of direct democracy. Distinguishing between the ‘input’ and ‘output’ effects of direct democracy, the article identifies the main empirical insights and normative arguments regarding voter competence, turnout, the influence of special interests, agenda setting and policy change. At the same time, it draws attention to a number of hitherto understudied issues, and makes a series of theoretical, methodological and empirical recommendations to advance the field of study. In particular, it argues that insufficient attention has been given to the link between direct democracy and policy implementation. Finally, and most ambitiously, the paper calls for a radical new theory of direct democratic voting behaviour that draws upon insights developed in the field of electoral studies to explain why voters choose a ballot proposal in direct democratic votes.

If you enjoyed these articles, here’s more of our recently published research on democracy. Download them now while they’re free to access:

When the people speak – and decide: deliberation and direct democracy in the citizen assembly of Glarus, Switzerland

Citizens’ Initiative Review process: mediating emotions, promoting productive deliberation

Beyond radicalism and resignation: the competing logics for public participation in policy decisions

Also check out our latest special issues which are also free to access:


Practical lessons from policy theories
Chris Weible and Paul Cairney on what practical lessons we can draw out from policy theories.



Policy learning and policy failure
Claire Dunlop on why learning from policy failures is crucially important.


Get downloading before 20 September or miss out!

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