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Democratic Innovations


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


 (ISBN-13: 9780521730709)

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.

• Makes a strong contribution to the direction of contemporary political theory • Provides clear and accessible details of different democratic innovations • Combines democratic theory and empirical cases


Introduction; 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; Conclusion.


'Democratic Innovations explains why we should not be satisfied with our received institutions of representative government. Deftly navigating this rapidly evolving field, Graham Smith shows how democratic methods such as citizen assemblies, direct legislation, and electronic participation can deepen the quality of democracy all over the world.' Archon Fung, John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University

'With its genuine clarity and innovative blend of cases and theory, Smith's new book is set to become a key source for all those seeking ways to re-engage citizens in democratic politics.' Michael Saward, The Open University

'A systematic and fine-grained assessment of new forms of democracy. Smith provides a smart, jargon-free, and comprehensive understanding of the potentials and challenges of new democratic practices. A stellar contribution to an exciting new approach to democratic theory and practice.' Mark E. Warren, University of British Columbia

'For each chapter we get a helpful broad-brush introduction which will please newcomers and students alike, followed by attention to at least one well documented case with material from other cases drawn upon as judged appropriate.' Celia Davies, Sociology

'Resurgence and reappraisal of democracies and democratic ideals in the 21st century has surely received its due share of academic attention. However, growing discontent with the existing forms and practices of representative democracy has facilitated the emergence and revival of ideas of deliberative and direct democracy. As a critical examination of the existing practices of 'democratic innovations', Graham Smith's book is a systematic and coherent collection of previously disengaged thoughts, practices and criticisms that were under-analyzed in the literature. Moreover, as a unique amalgam of democratic theory and new practices, it is the first comprehensive study of the different forms of democratic innovations.' CEU Political Science Journal

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