Centre for Deliberative Democracy and Global Governance Seminar

Comparing Democratic Innovations

Tue 5 June 2018Speaker: Dr Matt Ryan, University of SouthamptonVenue: The Dryzek Room, Building 22, University of Canberra

Abstract

Systematic comparisons of democratic institutions, devices, and processes provide a unique quality of knowledge that helps us learn how to improve governance in democracies. The research agenda inspired by the deliberative turn in democratic theory has moved in an increasingly empirical direction, with large scale data-collection an ever more prominent feature of research in the subfield of democratic innovations. Nevertheless, systematic comparisons of more than a handful of cases are still rare. Comparing a large number of democratic innovations presents conceptual challenges and sampling and publication biases have often reinforced a scholarly focus on ‘best practices’ at the expense of learning from failure and variation. In this presentation I report the results of systematic comparisons of more than a handful of cases of democratic innovation by systematically cumulating existing research. In particular I highlight different combinations of conditions that explain citizen control of decision-making worldwide. I show that even though comparing a large number of cases presents methodological and conceptual challenges, engagement with the task is a requirement if our explanatory theories are to be improved.

Bio

Dr Matt Ryan is Lecturer in Governance and Public Policy at the University of Southampton. His research focuses on democratic innovation and participation in politics, the policymaking process, and social science research methods. His most recent publications appear in European Journal of Political Research, Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly, Local Government Studies, Journal of Public Deliberation and PS: Political Science and Politics.

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