Welcome to our first virtual issue of 2021 and to a new year of reflecting on some of the latest thinking on the major policy questions of our time including the growing importance of digital democracy and on-line public service delivery, the decline of public trust in conventional politics, and the potential of citizen participation to reconnect electorates with political and policymaking processes.
Given that on-line working has become so pervasive and so important during the coronavirus pandemic, we start this virtual issue with a collection of papers that explores the role of digitalisation in promoting public participation and delivering public services. Read on as we journey from analyses of these innovative examples of digitalisation, stopping off at some familiar but important themes for regular readers of the journal including direct democracy, political leadership, and new insights into citizen participation. Continue reading →
It seems that people are growing increasingly disappointed with how representative democracy functions. A big part of the problem is arguably a de-attachment of policymakers from citizens’ everyday problems, which prompts citizens to react by turning their backs on conventional politics. Many scholars and other observers have turned to democratic innovations for solutions on how the link between democratic publics and their democratic leaders could be improved. Innovations based on the theory of deliberative democracy have probably received most attention by scholars and practitioners. Deliberative democracy refers to a decision-making process, which emphasizes informed, reflexive and egalitarian interpersonal communication.
To put theory into practice, mini-publics, like citizen initiative reviews, juries and assemblies have been widely used in democracies across the world. In these deliberative groups, randomly selected individuals discuss and decide upon a specific political issue on the basis of best expert knowledge and argumentation. A considerable number of studies have discussed theoretically whether deliberative bodies could fix the problems of contemporary representative democracy. Other studies have used experimental methods to examine the internal proceedings and effects of these deliberations. What has, however, almost totally been ignored by scholars are the views of policy-making elites, whose opinions on democracy eventually determine the shape of new democratic institutions. Continue reading →
Policy & Politics Autumn Highlights collection free to access from 1 August – 31 October 2019.
This quarter’s highlights collection focuses on some of our recent articles looking at public participation in the political process through a range of different lenses. Our first article, the Use and Abuse of Participatory Governance by Populist Governments challenge the notion prevalent in academic literature that participatory governance is a panacea for all ills in Western democracies. Based on a case study of Viktor Orban’s national consultations in Hungary, the authors use their case as evidence of how not to run a public consultation and why asking the public is not always such a great idea.
Selen A. Ercan, Carolyn M. Hendriks and John S. Dryzek
Imagine a crowded restaurant that is starting to get noisy. The noise at each table begins to rise as people try to make themselves heard. Eventually the noise becomes so loud that nobody can hear anything. Here’s a familiar context where there is plenty of expression, but precious little listening, and not much good conversation.
The noisy restaurant is a metaphor, we believe, for what we see in contemporary democracy where citizens have plenty of opportunities to express their views and opinions about anything that concerns them, but there is no guarantee and little likelihood that these views will be listened to, reflected upon, and/or taken up by decision-making bodies.
In this excellent article, the authors seek to make sense of the complex nature of deliberation and the complexity of deliberative democratic systems. In doing so, they bring together two hitherto separate strands of literature – the empirical turn and the systemtic turn – which have previously ‘pulled in different directions.’ In seeking to bring the two turns together, the authors highlight a number of important methodological questions. They ask: ‘how can we identify and portray the sites, agents and discursive elements that comprise a deliberative system, how can we study connections and transmissions across different sites of a deliberative system, and how can we understand the impact of the broader socio- political context on both specific deliberative sites and the entire deliberative system?’ Continue reading →
Genevieve Fuji Johnson, Laura Black and Katherine Knobloch
Emotion and reason are often framed as adversaries, with reason the victor. In this line of argument, emotion clouds reason and disrupts our ability to reach sound decisions.* Within the past several decades, however, scholars of decision making – and deliberation in particular – have begun to understand emotion’s more nuanced role in producing reasoned judgement.