Participatory spaces in perspective

International Conference of the Participatory and Deliberative Democracy Specialist Group of the Political Studies Association

Centre for the Study of Democracy, University of Westminster, 309 Regent St, London W1B 2HW,

5–7 September 2018

>>>>Detailed program

Contemporary politics is characterised by a variety of participatory spaces within and outside state institutions. These spaces have been classified in various ways such as invited, claimed or closed. The study of democratic innovations is rich in empirical findings on invited spaces organised by state agencies all around the world, like mini publics, participatory budgets, and online petitions. Research on new social movements, citizens’ initiatives, and unconventional forms of participation like flash mobs, online protest, and hacktivism examines the nature of these diverse claimed spaces. And the study of parliamentary debates and deliberation in governmental institutions provides insights into closed spaces.

The democratic scholarship of recent decades offers a great variety of theoretical and methodological approaches to capture the characteristics of these participatory spaces. Deliberative, agonistic, participatory, difference, and realist democrats apply competing conceptualisations of these phenomena. Recent developments in democratic theory raise the question whether such “model thinking” might be outdated and needs to be overcome. Are these different perspectives mutually exclusive or compatible? What are the implications of the world views that they imply? Do they offer useful perspectives or are they an obstacle for empirical research? Empirical work is characterised by the application of a diversity of methodological strategies that cut across quantitative and qualitative, positivist and constructivist traditions, raising the question of the most profitable approaches to studying participatory spaces.

The conference of the Participatory and Deliberative Democracy Specialist Group of the Political Studies Association 2018 brings together international research on a broad variety of participatory spaces. It investigates theoretical, methodological, and empirical challenges and aims to push the boundaries of democratic scholarship.

Conference convenors

Hans Asenbaum, Centre for the Study of Democracy, University of Westminster

Rod Dacombe, Department of Political Economy, King’s College London

Main events

Keynote: Carole Pateman in Conversation with Graham Smith: On Participatory Democracy, Feminism, and Basic Income, Friday 5 September 2018, 17:30-19:00, FyvieHall, University of Westminster, 309 Regent Street

Book launch: Handbook of Democratic Innovation and Governance with Stephen Elstub and Oliver Escobar, Thursday 6 September 2018, 17:00-17:45, Caley Room (RS152-153), University of Westminster, 309 Regent Street

Keynote: Michael Saward: Democratic Design, Thursday 6 September 2018, 17:30-19:00, UG05, University of Westminster, 309 Regent Street

Conference Lunch sponsored by Participedia, Friday 7 September 2018, 12:45-13:45, Caley Room (RS 152-153), University of Westminster, 309 Regent Street

Discussion: Future Directions in Research on Participatory Spaces, chaired by Graham Smith, speakers TBA, Friday 7 September 2018, 15:30-16:30, RS 152-153 CaleyRoom, University of Westminster, 309 Regent Street

Carole Pateman is Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Political Science at the University of California and Honorary Professor at Cardiff University. Her work on participatory democracy and feminist theory has a lasting impact on the scholarship of democracy. She is author of Participation and Democratic Theory (1970), The Sexual Contract (1988), The Disorder of Women (1989), and Contract and Domination (2007, together with Charles Mills).

Michael Saward is Professor of Politics at the University of Warwick. His innovative contributions to democratic theory focus on democratic design, representation and performativity, and the role of political ideas in practical political life. He is author of Democracy (2003), The Representative Claim (2010) and editor of Democratic Innovations:Representation, Deliberation, and Association (2006).

Graham Smith is Professor of Politics and Director of the Centre for the Study of Democracy at the University of Westminster. His work investigates democratic innovations, environmental politics, and sustainability. He is author of Deliberative Democracy and the Environment (2003), Beyond the Ballot (2005), and Democratic Innovations (2009).