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 10: Anti-politics and democratic innovation

Matthew Flinders, Matthew Wood and Jack Corbett


This chapter offers a critical analysis of current research on anti-politics and links to forms of democratic innovation. We find that ‘anti-politics’ remains a ‘contested’ concept, which to some extent reflects a lack of analytical depth and thinking within the field. We define ‘anti-politics’ as a set of complex and paradoxical sentiments that reject the very basis of liberal representative democratic culture, as it currently functions. We argue anti-politics provides a more significant challenge to democracy than is commonly acknowledged. We develop a fourfold framework that maps onto existing research and dissects specific forms of anti-politics. We show how particular forms of anti-politics challenge basic democratic ‘goods’ supposedly assured by innovative forms of democratic governance. We conclude that without careful consideration, democratic innovations may be little more than cosmetic, tokenistic responses and ultimately prove counter-productive to a far deeper socio-political challenge.

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