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Oliver Escobar and Stephen Elstub

We live at a time when democracy is widely loved in principle but broadly criticised in practice. Democracies are currently undergoing a period of both challenge and renewal. Democratic innovations are proliferating across all areas of governance, from politics to 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 Handbook covers different types of democratic innovations; their potential to address current problems with democracy; their use in different areas of policy and governance; the various actors involved; their application in different parts of the world; their impact on citizenship and political equality; and the methods used to research them. 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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Stephen Elstub and Oliver Escobar

This chapter is based on a scoping review, which finds that there is little agreement about what should be classified as ‘democratic innovations’ and a general lack of clarity and precision in the use of the term, which is causing concept stretching and hindering understanding and analysis. This is in part due to the limitations of the existing definitions and typologies. To overcome this, a morphological analysis is conducted to develop a set of ineliminable, quasi-contingent, and contextual features of democratic innovations. It is argued that democratic innovations can be seen as ‘families’ of conceptual clusters that include spaces and processes that have certain resemblance but, also differences determined by context. We argue that the new definition and typology that we offer enables a degree of consistency to be achieved in the development, understanding and analysis of ‘democratic innovations’ independent of specific contexts.

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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.