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 13: Consultants: the emerging participation industry

Laurence Bherer and Caroline W. Lee


This chapter explores the role of participation consultants in the development and implementation of democratic innovations, taking Western Europe, Canada and the US as illustrative cases. It offers critical analysis of the role of consultants who, working for the private, public and nonprofit sectors, are hired to implement participatory processes in a range of institutional and policy contexts. Where did this industry come from? What types of actors populate this field? What are the structural conditions and contextual incentives under which they operate? We examine the emergence of this new field, its role in promoting and diffusing a variety of democratic innovations, and current questions regarding the implications of a participation industry for democratic practice.

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