Handbook of Democratic Innovation and Governance
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Handbook of Democratic Innovation and Governance

Edited by Stephen Elstub and Oliver Escobar

Democratic innovations are proliferating in politics, governance, policy, and public administration. These new processes of public participation are reimagining the relationship between citizens and institutions. This Handbook advances understanding of democratic innovations, in theory and practice, by critically reviewing their importance throughout the world. The overarching themes are a focus on citizens and their relationship to these innovations, and the resulting effects on political equality. The Handbook therefore offers a definitive overview of existing research on democratic innovations, while also setting the agenda for future research and practice.
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Chapter 19: Democratic innovations and the policy process

Adrian Bua


This chapter situates democratic innovation within broader processes of institutional change in public administration and develops the argument that they have vulnerable potential to act as a democratising force, through purposive institutional design. However, democratic innovations are a complement, rather than a substitute, for existing institutions, with which they interact in complex ways. The chapter focuses on the mechanisms through which the outputs of democratic innovation are transmitted to the policy process. The chapter argues that democratic innovations face two, competing, pressures. The first is technical and regards ensuring policy-making ‘reflexivity’ necessary for the efficient governance. The second is normative, and has to do with increasing levels of responsiveness necessary to ensure legitimacy. Different institutional designs for transmission mechanisms ‘fix’ the tension between reflexivity and responsiveness in different, and imperfect, ways. The chapter differentiates between three broad categories and illustrates how they operate using paradigmatic cases of democratic innovation.

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