Centre for Deliberative Democracy and Global Governance Seminar

CALL FOR PAPERS - Upcoming: Democratic Innovations: Meeting Great Expectations?

Wed 22 August 2018 to Sat 25 August 2018Section Chairs: Nicole Curato, University of Canberra and Sofie Marien, KU LeuvenUniversitat Hamburg

Democratic innovations are at a crossroads. For some, the time has come for these ‘citizen-centric’ initiatives to be scaled up and empowered to influence binding decisions. These innovations have established a track record in deepening democratic engagement, whether it is in the context of planning in local communities or identifying prospects for global climate change policies.

For others, however, democratic innovations have stopped being democratic and innovative. Instead of delivering on their promise of generating legitimate outcomes, policymakers and corporate interests have coopted these democratic forums. The much cited ‘crisis of democracy’ also places democratic innovations on the spot. Why is it that the age of democratic innovations in political theory has also been the age of bigotry, fake news, and populism in political practice?

This section is designed to get to the heart of these issues. It seeks to generate a conversation between advocates, sceptics, and observers of democratic innovations, as well as scholars that envision their future.

The section is structured around the following topics:

Democratic innovations in all forms and sizes. While some scholars have focused their attention on new institutions set up ad hoc to include citizens input, others have focused on the democratization of traditional institutions such as political parties. The nature of the democratic innovations theorized and implemented today is broad and ever expanding: citizen involvement can take shape in radically different forms within different stages of the policy-cycle in very diverse cultural setting. This section aims to include scholars working on the broad diversity of innovations that are theorized and implemented all across the world today.

Revisiting great expectations. No scholar of democratic innovations considers these initiatives to be a magic bullet. There is, however, little doubt that expectations have been raised about what democratic innovations can achieve. This section takes stock of the precise achievements theorists, empirical researchers, and practitioners can expect of democratic innovations, and reflects on whether these expectations need to be recalibrated based on empirical developments in the field.

Democratizing democratic innovations. This theme foregrounds issues of power and inequalities in the study of democratic innovations. It revisits the critiques of difference democracy, feminism, and post-colonial studies, as well as contributions of empirical scholarship in understanding who benefits, deliberately or inadvertently, from democratic innovations.

We welcome panel proposals on/before 10 November (internal deadline). Please email us your panel proposals at Nicole.Curato | at | canberra.edu.au and sofie.marien | at | kuleuven.be 

About the Section Chairs

Nicole Curato (@NicoleCurato) holds the Australian Research Council’s Discovery Early Career Research Fellowship at the Centre for Deliberative Democracy and Global Governance, University of Canberra. Her work on democratic innovations has been published in journals including Policy Sciences, European Political Science Review, and Critical Policy Studies, among others. She is the author of the forthcoming book Democracy in a Time of Misery: From Slow Violence to Deliberative Politics, and Power in Deliberative Democracy: Norms, Forums, Systems (2018, with Marit Hammond and John Minn). She is the convener of the Deliberative Democracy Summer School and an Associate Editor of Political Studies.

Sofie Marien (@_SofieMarien) holds an European Research Council Starting Grant at the Centre for Political Science Research at the University of Leuven. She is interested in how democratic innovations can foster democratic legitimacy and is directing a research team at KU Leuven tackling this question. She is the chair of the Dutch-speaking Belgian political science association VPW. Her work on democratic innovations and legitimacy has been published in journals including Political Behavior, European Journal of Political Research, Electoral Studies, Social Science Quarterly, among others.

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