ECPR General conference 2018, Hamburg


Democratic Innovations: Meeting Great Expectations?
22-25 August 2018, Universität Hamburg

This section is endorsed by the Standing Group on Democratic Innovations.

Section Chairs
Nicole Curato, University of Canberra
Sofie Marien, KU Leuven

Democratic innovations are at a crossroads. For some, the time has come for these ‘citizen-centric’ initiatives to be scaled up and empowered to influence binding decisions. These innovations have established a track record in deepening democratic engagement, whether it is in the context of planning in local communities or identifying prospects for global climate change policies.

For others, however, democratic innovations have stopped being democratic and innovative. Instead of delivering on their promise of generating legitimate outcomes, policymakers and corporate interests have coopted these democratic forums. The much cited ‘crisis of democracy’ also places democratic innovations on the spot. Why is it that the age of democratic innovations in political theory has also been the age of bigotry, fake news, and populism in political practice?

This section is designed to get to the heart of these issues. It seeks to generate a conversation between advocates, sceptics, and observers of democratic innovations, as well as scholars that envision their future.

The section is structured around the following topics:

Democratic innovations in all forms and sizes. While some scholars have focused their attention on new institutions set up ad hoc to include citizens input, others have focused on the democratization of traditional institutions such as political parties. The nature of the democratic innovations theorized and implemented today is broad and ever expanding: citizen involvement can take shape in radically different forms within different stages of the policy-cycle in very diverse cultural setting. This section aims to include scholars working on the broad diversity of innovations that are theorized and implemented all across the world today.

Revisiting great expectations. No scholar of democratic innovations considers these initiatives to be a magic bullet. There is, however, little doubt that expectations have been raised about what democratic innovations can achieve. This section takes stock of the precise achievements theorists, empirical researchers, and practitioners can expect of democratic innovations, and reflects on whether these expectations need to be recalibrated based on empirical developments in the field.

Democratizing democratic innovations. This theme foregrounds issues of power and inequalities in the study of democratic innovations. It revisits the critiques of difference democracy, feminism, and post-colonial studies, as well as contributions of empirical scholarship in understanding who benefits, deliberately or inadvertently, from democratic innovations.

We welcome panel proposals on/before 10 November (internal deadline). Please email us your panel proposals at

About the Section Chairs

Nicole Curato (@NicoleCurato) holds the Australian Research Council’s Discovery Early Career Research Fellowship at the Centre for Deliberative Democracy and Global Governance, University of Canberra. Her work on democratic innovations has been published in journals including Policy Sciences, European Political Science Review, and Critical Policy Studies, among others. She is the author of the forthcoming book Democracy in a Time of Misery: From Slow Violence to Deliberative Politics, and Power in Deliberative Democracy: Norms, Forums, Systems (2018, with Marit Hammond and John Minn). She is the convener of the Deliberative Democracy Summer School and an Associate Editor of Political Studies.

Sofie Marien (@_SofieMarien) holds an European Research Council Starting Grant at the Centre for Political Science Research at the University of Leuven. She is interested in how democratic innovations can foster democratic legitimacy and is directing a research team at KU Leuven tackling this question. She is the chair of the Dutch-speaking Belgian political science association VPW. Her work on democratic innovations and legitimacy has been published in journals including Political Behavior, European Journal of Political Research, Electoral Studies, Social Science Quarterly, among others.


ECPR General Conference 2017, Universitetet i Oslo, Norway

We have a section, including 11 panels, at the General Conference.

Our section is S63: The Diversity of Democratic Innovations – Adapting Democratic Innovations to Different Challenges of Democracy. Section chairs are Staffan Himmelroos, Åbo Akademi University and Simon Beste, University of Lucerne.


  • Can New Technologies Improve Democratic Innovations? Challenges and Risks of Digital Devices for Democracy (P036)
  • Deliberative Behavior (P085)
  • Democratic Innovations and Local Democracy (P087)
  • Democratic Innovations at the Local Level (P088)
  • Democratic Innovations from a Citizen Perspective (P089)
  • Disagreement and Diversity in Deliberative democracy (P096)
  • Liberal Democracy, Populism, and the Role of Democratic Innovations (P204)
  • Locating Deliberative Democracy´s Normative Principles in Real-World Political Practice (P212)
  • The Newer, the Better? Comparing Traditional and Innovative Participatory Formats (P405)
  • The Place of Innovation (P409)
  • The Promises and Pitfalls of Democratic Innovations (P420)

For more information about the panels please visit:
Timetable, academic programme and more information about the conference can be found at the ECPR website:
Papers should be uploaded within August.


Business meeting Friday 8 September 13:00–14:00

Our SG will have a full section chaired by Staffan Himmelroos (Åbo Akademi) and Simon Beste (Stuttgart),  with 10 interesting panels at the General Conference in Oslo. As usual, we will also have a Business Meeting in conjunction with the conference. Since there were no slots thanks to a large number of panels, we will organise the Business Meeting on Friday lunch time, in room GS 3512, where many of our panels will be held. We are not able to provide lunch at the meeting, so please pre-order your lunches according to the instructions given by the ECPR. We will, however, try to order coffee and tea and some soft drinks to the meeting.

So, please come to the Business Meeting on Friday 8 September 2017, 13:00 – 14:00 (it will be listed 12:45 in the official program but we need some time for people to collect their lunches so 1 pm is more realistic).


Summer school “Democratic innovations in Europe and in the European Union”
21 – 25 August 2017, Brussels, Belgium

An initiative of the ECPR Standing Group on Democratic Innovations, Organized by the Université Saint-Louis – Brussels & Université catholique de Louvain. We invite applications from advanced Master students and PhD students from all across Europe and the world. Applicants should send a letter of motivation and their CV to no later than 1 April 2017 and ideally before as applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis.

More information about the Summer School can be found here: Summer school_SG Democratic innovations_Programme


ECPR Joint Sessions, University of Nicosia, 10-14 April 2018

Call for papers, deadline 6 December 2017
Workshop: Can Participatory reforms Save Representative Democracy?
Workshop Director: Kimmo Grönlund, Åbo Akademi
Co-director: Brigitte Geissel, Johann Wolfgang Goethe-Universität Frankfurt

More information on the ECPR website


Call for Papers: “Beyond Democracy: Innovation as Politics”

Deadline: August 31, 2017.
Published by “Glocalism: Journal of Culture, Politics and Innovation”. This issue is scheduled to appear at end-October 2017.

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