Institutionalizing participatory and deliberative democracy

The Centre for the Study of Democracy is delighted to welcome Leonardo Avritzer, Clodagh Harris and Oliver Escobar for a workshop on the institutionalization of participatory and deliberative democracy.

Over recent decades there has been increasing experimentation worldwide with new forms of public engagement that are more or less participatory and/or deliberative in character. Some of these institutional innovations have been transitory, whereas others have become more regularized elements of democratic governance. Participatory budgeting is perhaps the best-known example of such institutionalized democratic engagement, with elements of its practice travelling from Brazilian cities to municipalities across the world. But this is just one of a number of examples of participatory institutions that have been embedded across Latin America. In a similar fashion, randomly selected citizens’ assemblies and other deliberative mini-publics have come to play a more central role in decision making in a number of states including Canada, the Netherlands, Australia, Ireland and the US.

This workshop focuses on the modes and impacts of institutionalization of participatory and deliberative innovations, drawing on experience from Brazil, Ireland, Scotland and other polities. It explores the conditions under which institutionalization takes place and the effects it can have on democratic systems more broadly. There are obvious potential tensions for democratic practices that are often designed to disrupt existing political and economic orders, but which are then institutionalized alongside formal state institutions. At the same time, such institutional innovations can be seen as the basis on which to build more participatory and deliberative systems.

1.30-3.30 Panel discussion

Graham Smith, ‘Approaches to institutionalization worldwide’

Clodagh Harris, ‘Citizens’ assemblies in Ireland’

Oliver Escobar, ‘Participatory budgeting and beyond in Scotland’

3.30 Tea break

4-6 Lecture and discussion

Leonardo Avritzer, ‘Institutional Innovation: Promises and Limits of Democratic Participation in Latin America’

Leonardo Avritzeris Professor at the Federal University of Minas Gerais, Brazil. He is author of a number of books and articles on participatory institutions in Latin America. His new book Two Faces of Institutional Innovation: Promises and Limits of Democratic Participation in Latin America will be published this month by Edward Elgar.

Clodagh Harrisis a senior lecturer in the Department of Government, University College Cork. She is a specialist in democratic theory and practice, in particular deliberative innovations, and was part of the Academic and Legal Advisory team of the Irish Constitutional Convention.

Oliver Escobaris Lecturer in Public Policy at the University of Edinburgh (Politics and IR) and Co-Director of What Works Scotland, where he leads on Community Engagement and Capacity Building. He is actively involved in the implementation of the Community Empowerment Act.

Graham Smithis Professor of Politics and Director of the Centre for the Study of Democracy at the University of Westminster. He is a specialist in participatory democratic institutions. He was one of the organizers of the recent Citizens’ Assembly on Brexit.


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