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ECPR Journals Virtual Special Issue

Four Decades of Democratic Innovation Research: Revisiting Theories, Concepts and Methods

Civil Society
Political Participation
Political Theory
Social Movements
Section Number
Section Chair
Peter H. Feindt
Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin
Section Co-Chair
Carsten Herzberg
nexus Institute for Cooperation Management and Interdisciplinary Research

Since the participatory challenge of the early 1970s, democratic innovation research has developed alongside the political agenda. Now the Standing Group on Democratic Innovations aims to take stock of the wide range of theoretical, conceptual and methodological approaches, to reflect on their relative merits and to stimulate debate on theoretical and methodological questions. The section cordially invites empirical and theoretical papers which address the following five topics:
1. Democracy: How is the democratic innovation agenda in research and practice informed by various theories of democracy? Have democratic innovations challenged, transformed or accommodated representative democracy? What are the normative points of reference and the underlying notions of power? How have democratic innovations, conversely, stimulated theoretical developments?
2. Evaluation: How are democratic innovations evaluated in research and practice? How relevant are various dimensions of quality, such as effectiveness, efficiency, fairness and competence? How are such criteria reflected in the design of democratic innovations and empirical research?
3. Wider theoretical perspectives: Democratic innovations and deliberative democracy have been developed in a pragmatist tradition. But empirical political research is often linked to behaviorism, structuralism, constructivism, and neo-institutionalism. How are these tensions mediated in various approaches, e.g. case studies, participatory research, meta studies or experimental studies?
4. How have the contexts, opportunities and themes for democratic innovations and for research developed over time? Does research treat democratic innovations as insulated events or as elements of broader strategies and transformations? How are wider perspectives addressed such as the institutional and systemic context and the drivers of democratic innovation?
5. Innovation cycle: When do democratic innovations constitute original inventions? How do processes of diffusion work? Can the demand for democratic innovations be saturated? Can we observe ‘innovation fatigue’, and how would it affect the innovativeness of democracy? Is there a need for ever new democratic innovations?

Panel List

Code Title Details
P081Democratic Innovation and Theories of Political Representation View Panel Details
P082Democratic Innovation Research: The Theoretical, Methodological and Practical Challenges View Panel Details
P083Democratic Innovations through Direct Democracy: What is the Relation between Direct Democracy and Representative Democracy? View Panel Details
P093Direct and Deliberative Democracy View Panel Details
P147Historicising Deliberative Democracy View Panel Details
P190Learning from Each Other: Democratic Innovation Research and Quality of Democracy Measurements View Panel Details
P202Mapping and Measuring Deliberative Processes: Macro-Micro Interfaces View Panel Details
P300Social Movements and Deliberative Democracy: Is there a Countervailing Power in Europe? View Panel Details
P366The Quality of Deliberation – Theory and Empirical Evidence View Panel Details
P413What Explains (the Absence of) Participatory Reforms? View Panel Details
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