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Democratic Innovations


  • Page extent: 232 pages
  • Size: 228 x 152 mm
  • Weight: 0.38 kg


 (ISBN-13: 9780521730709)

Democratic Innovations
Cambridge University Press
9780521514774 - Democratic Innovations - Designing institutions for citizen participation - By Graham Smith

Democratic Innovations

Can we design institutions that increase and deepen citizen participation in the political decision-making process? At a time when there is growing disillusionment with the institutions of advanced industrial democracies, there is also increasing interest in new ways of involving citizens in the political decisions that affect their lives. This book draws together evidence from a variety of democratic innovations from around the world, including participatory budgeting in Brazil, Citizens’ Assemblies on Electoral Reform in Canada, direct legislation in California and Switzerland and emerging experiments in e-democracy. The book offers a rare systematic analysis of this diverse range of democratic innovations, drawing lessons for the future development of both democratic theory and practice.

Theories of Institutional Design

Series Editor

Robert E. Goodin
Research School of Social Sciences
Australian National University

Graham Smith is Professor of Politics in the Centre for Citizenship, Globalisation and Governance at the University of Southampton.

Advisory Editors

Brian Barry
Russell Hardin
Carole Pateman
Barry Weingast
Stephen Elkin
Claus Offe
Susan Rose-Ackerman

Social scientists have rediscovered institutions. They have been increasingly concerned with the myriad ways in which social and political institutions shape the patterns of individual interactions which produce social phenomena. They are equally concerned with the ways in which those institutions emerge from such interactions.

This series is devoted to the exploration of the more normative aspects of these issues. What makes one set of institutions better than another? How, if at all, might we move from the less desirable set of institutions to a more desirable set? Alongside the questions of what institutions we would design, if we were designing them afresh, are pragmatic questions of how we can best get from here to there: from our present institutions to new revitalised ones.

Theories of institutional design is insistently multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary, both in the institutions on which it focuses, and in the methodologies used to study them. There are interesting sociological questions to be asked about legal institutions, interesting legal questions to be asked about economic institutions, and interesting social, economic, and legal questions to be asked about political institutions. By juxtaposing these approaches in print, this series aims to enrich normative discourse surrounding important issues of designing and redesigning, shaping and reshaping the social, political, and economic institutions of contemporary society.

Other books in the series

Brent Fisse and John Braithwaite, Corporations, Crime and Accountability

Robert E. Goodin (editor), The Theory of Institutional Design

Itai Sened, The Political Institution of Private Property

Mark Bovens, The Quest for Responsibility: Accountability and Citizenship in Complex Organisations

Bo Rothstein, Just Institutions Matter: The Moral and Political Logic of the Universal Welfare State

Jon Elster, Claus Offe, and Ulrich K. Preuss, Institutional Design in Post-Communist Societies: Rebuilding the Ship at Sea

Adrienne Héritier, Policy-Making and Diversity in Europe: Escape from Deadlock

Geoffrey Brennan and Alan Hamlin, Democratic Devices and Desires

Eric M. Patashnik, Putting Trust in the US Budget: Federal Trust Funds and the Politics of Commitment

Benjamin Reilly, Democracy in Divided Societies: Electoral Engineering for Conflict Management

John S. Dryzek and Leslie Templeman Holmes, Post-Communist Democratization: Political Discourses Across Thirteen Countries

Huib Pellikaan and Robert J. van der Veen, Environmental Dilemmas and Policy Design

Maarten A. Hajer and Hendrik Wagenaar (editors), Deliberative Policy Analysis: Understanding Governance in the Network Society

Jürg Steiner, André Bächtiger, Markus Spörndli and Marco R. Steenbergen, Deliberative Politics in Action: Analyzing Parliamentary Discourse

Bo Rothstein, Social Traps and the Problem of Trust

Jonathan G. S. Koppell, The Politics of Quasi-Government: Hybrid Organizations and the Dynamics of Bureaucratic Control

Mark E. Warren and Hilary Pearse (editors), Designing Deliberative Democracy: The British Columbia Citizens Assembly

Democratic Innovations

Designing institutions for citizen participation

Graham Smith

Professor of Politics
University of Southampton


Cambridge, New York, Melbourne, Madrid, Cape Town, Singapore, São Paulo, Delhi

Cambridge University Press

The Edinburgh Building, Cambridge CB2 8ru, uk

Published in the United States of America by Cambridge University Press, New York
Information on this title:

© Graham Smith 2009

First published 2009

Printed in the United Kingdom at the University Press, Cambridge

Library of Congress Cataloguing in Publication data

Smith, Graham, 1966–
Democratic innovations : designing institutions for citizen participation / Graham Smith.
p. cm. – (Theories of institutional design)
Includes bibliographical references and index.
ISBN 978–0–521–51477–4 (hardback) – ISBN 978–0–521–73070–9 (pbk.)
1. Political participation. 2. Direct democracy. 3. Legislation–Citizen participation.
4. Budget–Citizen participation. 5. Internet–Political aspects. I. Title. II. Series.
JF799.G653 2009
323′.042–dc22  2009016996

ISBN 978-0-521-51477-4 hardback

ISBN 978-0-521-73070-9 paperback

Cambridge University Press has no responsibility for the persistence or accuracy of URLs for external or third-party internet websites referred to in this publication, and does not guarantee that any content on such websites is, or will remain, accurate or appropriate.

To my parents


1     Studying democratic innovations: an analytical framework
2     Popular assemblies: from New England town meetings to participatory budgeting
3     Mini-publics: assemblies by random selection
4     Direct legislation: direct democracy through the ballot box
5     E-democracy: the promise of information and communication technology
6     Realising the goods of democratic institutions


This book would probably not exist if Adam Lent had not commissioned me to write a report on democratic innovations for the Power Inquiry. His perceptive promptings and suggestions helped shape the content of Beyond the Ballot. The report seemed to catch academic and policy-makers’ imagination and the response convinced me that a more considered reflection on democratic innovations was timely.

My ideas have been shaped by discussions with numerous colleagues and students over the past few years, too numerous to thank. I would, however, like to express my gratitude to those individuals who have been willing to read and comment on one or more of the chapters: Chris Armstrong, Ken Carty, Archon Fung, Andrew Mason, David Owen, John Parkinson, Ben Saunders, Mike Saward, Susan Stephenson, Julien Talpin, Corinne Wales, Mark Warren and the anonymous readers from Cambridge University Press.

I wish to express my warmest thanks to Susan Stephenson and David Owen. Susan and I have shared our lives for almost two decades now and her passion – emotional, spiritual and intellectual – has been a source of great joy in my life. David is a rare colleague. He has read all of the chapters at least once – as well as chapters that were eventually ditched – and I thank him for his friendship, generosity and belief in my work.

I would like to thank my supportive department at the University of Southampton for the sabbatical that allowed me to start writing this book and the Arts and Humanities Research Council for granting me a Research Leave Award which provided a further semester of study leave. I would also like to thank Sarum College for generously providing a quiet place to hide away to write when needed and John Haslam at Cambridge

University Press for being a great editor and supporting the right football team.

Finally, I would like to dedicate this book to my parents, Alan and Olive Smith. During the writing of this book they were both taken seriously ill. I was fortunate to be on sabbatical and able to spend valuable time with them and the rest of my family during their recoveries. Thankfully they are now well again. Their health is more important to me than any manuscript.

© Cambridge University Press
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