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 11: The impact of democratic innovations on citizens’ efficacy

Paolo Spada


When we look at the subfield that analyses the impact of democratic innovations on efficacy, we find that most of the existing empirical knowledge focuses on the study of a single case study, treats democratic innovations as a black box, and has difficulties bridging the gap between pilots and institutions. Not surprisingly, this body of empirical knowledge offers inconclusive results. This chapter begins by reviewing literatures in political science, pedagogy and psychology that might shed light on the impact of democratic innovations on efficacy and then, by leveraging the flexibility of the systemic approach, sketches a research agenda designed to overcome the limits of the subfield. The chapter showcases this approach by comparing the subsystems of two extremely different democratic innovations, Deliberative Polling and Participatory Budgeting, and generating a set of new testable hypotheses on the impact of such subsystems on efficacy.

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