The institutionalization of new mechanisms through which citizens can directly take part in the democratic process is increasingly popular amongst public authorities at different levels of governance. There is a growing research community analyzing such participatory reforms, but the question of why participatory reforms have been implemented by some authorities and not by others has been largely neglected. The proposed section will bring together researchers with an interest in better understanding the conditions under which participatory institutions are enacted and embedded. Three main questions will be addressed. First, what are the institutional, societal and/or political characteristics that are associated with the presence and absence of effective participatory governing strategies? Second, what factors affect the adoption (or abandonment) of participatory strategies on the part of political authorities? And third, how can we explain the adoption of different types of participatory process (e.g. mini-publics, participatory budgeting, etc.)? We invite papers from different methodological and theoretical perspectives and on different types of participatory reforms. Comparative papers, whether cross- or intra-national are most welcome, but we are also interested in theoretical papers and contributions that concentrate on single cases or countries.