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 38: Reflections on the theory and practice of democratic innovations

Graham Smith


Bringing this impressive collection to a close, the concluding chapter offers critical reflections on how the field of study has matured. The concept of democratic innovations may lack conceptual precision, but it is a term that continues to resonate with academics, activists, practitioners and policy makers. A defining characteristic of the study of democratic innovations is its growing methodological sophistication, although more sustained attention is needed to trace the various impacts and outcomes of forms of participatory governance. Increasing engagement across academic boundaries to fully embrace the investigation of emerging digital formations and modes of participation in the economic realm and social movements will strengthen our understanding of the potential of participatory democracy. The chapter ends with the provocative question of whether the almost hegemonic status of deliberative democracy is healthy for the analysis of democratic innovations.

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