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Measuring the Compatibility of Democratic Innovations with Representative Democracy

Democracy
Political Participation
Methods
Decision Making
Dannica Fleuß
Helmut-Schmidt-University/University of the Armed Forces Hamburg
Dannica Fleuß
Helmut-Schmidt-University/University of the Armed Forces Hamburg
Karoline Helbig
WZB Berlin Social Science Center

Abstract

The implementation of “democratic innovations” is one heavily debated answer to the participatory crisis of democracy. They give citizens the opportunity to participate in political decision-making independently of representative institutions. The actual problem-solving potential of this approach is subject to a widespread debate that includes a fundamental disagreement about the criteria for the evaluation of that potential with regard to the diagnosed problem. One indicator considered crucial for a high problem-solving potential of democratic innovations is their compatibility with conventional democratic institutions - more specifically: the uptaking of decisions made in various “loci” of the political system. We claim that a respective systematic framework is essential for the empirical evaluation of democratic innovations but missing so far. In our contribution, we will tackle this challenge. The most advanced and promising conceptual framework for this complex task builds on the systems approach (Mansbridge et al. 2012). Within a systemic approach, the interactive relationships between heterogeneous participatory practices are addressed by the concepts of “transmissions” or “coupling”. They describe the intensity of interactions between the loci. Using those concepts and taking up on our previous work (Fleuß/Helbig/Schaal forthcoming), we will specify our discussion of how the uptaking of decisions reached in different participatory practices can be (a) conceptualized in terms of “coupling” and “transmission” and (b) empirically evaluated. We assume that, to provide a non-elitist solution for the current “democratic crisis”, the various participatory practices have to exhibit an adequate degree of “coupling” or “transmissions”. Building on that, we will present approaches to measuring the degree of transmissions, making use of various modes of data acquisition and aggregation (depending on the conceptual basis). By proposing such strategies to assess the compatibility of democratic innovations we want to contribute to the groundwork of reforming participatory democracy by the implementation of such instruments.