Innovations in Democratic Governance: How Does Citizen Participation Contribute to a Better Democracy?
Author: Ank Michels
Size: 21 pages (187 KB)
This study examines citizen participation in various Western countries. It shows that citizen involvement produces a number of benefits, which vary according to the type of democratic innovation. However, since these positive effects are perceptible only to those taking part, and the number of participants is often small, the benefits to individual democratic citizenship are far more conclusive than the benefits to democracy as a whole.
Citizen participation is usually considered a valuable element of democratic citizenship and democratic decision-making. Theorists claim that it has positive effects on the quality of democracy and, over recent decades, many countries have gained experience with referendums, citizens' forums, citizens' juries, collaborative governance, participatory budgeting and other models in which citizens have a more direct say.
These democratic innovations can be grouped into four main types: deliberative forums, surveys, referendums and participatory policymaking projects. Participation in these can have an influence on various elements of democracy, such as on decision-making, inclusion, skills and virtues, deliberation and legitimacy:
In order to understand the contribution of different forms of citizen participation to democracy it is important to distinguish between a focus on outcome and decision-making versus process and opinion formation. Citizens participating in referendums and participatory policymaking have more of an impact on policy than do participants in deliberative surveys and deliberative forums. In addition:
Michels, A., 2011, 'Innovations in Democratic Governance: How Does Citizen Participation Contribute to a Better Democracy?', International Review of Administrative Sciences, vol. 77, no. 2, pp. 275-293
Author: Ank Michels , a.m.b.michels[at]uu.nl