ECPR 2019 General Conference, Wroclaw, Poland 4–7 September 2019
Democratic Innovations: Responding to Great Challenges

We welcome panel proposals on/ before 14 November 2018 (internal deadline). Please email your panel proposals to Edana Beauvais (edana.beauvais[at] and Matt Ryan (m.g.ryan[at] We are happy to help with any queries or ideas. We look forward to hearing from you. More information: ECPR Democratic Innovations Call for Proposals


ECPR Joint Sessions of Workshops, Mons, 8-12 April 2019
Workshop: Political Parties and Deliberative Practices: Use and Abuse
Call for Papers

This workshop is endorsed by the Standing Group.

There are three major reasons for which political parties may engage with deliberative democracy: intra-party democracy, parties’ functions and their public image. First, many political parties have complex organizations in which the rights of members are important. As such, members make increasing demands to receive a voice in the decision-making process. The use of primaries for candidate selection is used much more than in the past also in Europe but fails to cover more aspects of intra-party democracy. Second, political parties may be inclined to use deliberation to fulfil their tasks in contemporary times. Deliberation may constitute important opportunities for political parties to augment their influence and legitimacy. They could do so by involving citizens in decision-making processes that are contested and require debate before implementation. Third, political parties could use deliberative practices to alter their image. Deliberative forums may provide political parties the ideal tool to send a signal that they made changes, to reinvigorate activism and to reshape the public perception about them. For example, to indicate that they are not the sole decision-makers and their actions rest on informed decisions, parties in office can organize deliberations to (re)connect the population with policies.

This workshop aims to invite scholars to analyze how political parties use or abuse deliberative practices to achieve their goals. The directors encourage three types of papers:
1. Theoretical papers that discuss the link between political parties and deliberative practices (micro and macro). These papers could refer to the turn created by the deliberative democracy both in the organization and activity of political parties.
2. Empirical papers that scrutinize the causes, forms, and consequences of the use of deliberation by political parties. These may include, among others, the events organized to reinvigorate intra-party democracy, deliberation organized with the aim to alter a policy-making process and the ways in which political parties foster or impede deliberation in the whole political system.
3. Methodological papers seeking to provide a systematic way to assess the use of deliberation by political parties across different political systems.

Both single case studies, comparative analyses (small and medium N) and large N approaches are invited. There is no preference for qualitative or quantitative techniques of analysis. The focus of the workshop is predominantly on established and new democracies in Europe, but valuable contributions from other political settings and geographic areas are welcome. Details about the workshop are available at and applications can be done using the myecpr system ( Application deadline: 1 December 2018, early applications are strongly encouraged.


Citizens’ Assemblies: Time to Renew European DemocracyForesight Centre, University of Liverpool, 5th December, 10 – 4.30

Participants will have the opportunity to explore the value of Citizens’ Assemblies, and to consider whether we are at a point where they should or can start becoming a permanent part of European democracies. The conference concludes an EACEA funded project – Citizens’ Assemblies for the Renewal of Europe – that has held Citizens’ Assemblies across the EU this year, and brings together leading experts from both academia and civil society. Registration and programme information available at Citizens Assemblies: Time To Renew European Democracy

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Congress of the French Political Science Association (AFSP) 2019, Bordeaux, July 2-4, 2019

Call for contributions in English and French for a thematic section “Articulating theoretical “models” and empirical “data”: toolboxes and investigation feedbacks”. We think it might provide an interesting space for researchers on democratic innovations both from a theoretical, sociological and historical point of view, to present their work and discuss their methodology with colleagues concerned with other thematic fields in the study of politics. Proposals (1 page) in English of French should be sent to each of the scientific conveners (david.copello[at] ; janie.pelabay[at] by December, 12. More information: CFP ST 34 – AFSP


CFP: Special Issue in Democratic Theory 6 (2), Dec 2019 

What is democratic theory?
Head to your university library website and enter the search term: “what is democratic theory?” It’s likely that your search will either yield “no records found” or perhaps you’ll score a direct hit with James Alfred Pennock’s Democratic Political Theory (Princeton, 1979). Standard internet searches return a similar paucity of results. There is very little literature demarcating the meaning and purpose of democratic theory and the task of the democratic theorist. This is a surprising finding. This lack of literature devoted to the definition of a field of study is unusual – especially for one as widely known and discussed as democratic theory. The question “what is political theory?”, for example, returns dozens of academic articles and books. Why not for democratic theory?

Pennock (1979) provides an answer. “The phrase [democratic theory] is often used as though it stood for a clearly demarcated and agreed upon body of doctrine; but that is far from the case. Even the question of what topics it should include,” Pennock continues, “is the subject of wide disagreement.” Democratic theory “has been quite properly called ‘a loosely knit family of ideas’”.[1] This lack of scholarly attention is even more startling considering the normative contestation around the meaning of the term “democracy” itself. While Pennock aptly points out this problem, he leaves the labour of solving it to posterity.

In the near 40 years since the publication of Pennock’s book, these questions have received little attention. Is democratic theory, for example, a subfield of political theory or an interdisciplinary endeavour, taking in not only political science but law, economics, public administration and international relations? Is the task of a democratic theorist to develop a normative conception of polity, or work with democracy as an essentially contested concept? These questions also gain topicality in the light of a recent debate about the role of models of democracy. Models conceptualizing democracy in participatory, realist, pluralist, agonistic or deliberative terms have been at the centre of debates in democratic theory for several decades now. The usefulness of this debate between models has, however, recently been called into question. Is there a future in democratic theory beyond model thinking? Or does it need new, different or simply further developed existing models of democracy?

Democratic Theory will mark this 40-year anniversary with a special issue encompassing a chorus of voices striving to define democratic theory in its plurality, demarcate its boundaries, and reflect on both the makings and workings of democratic theorists. Our intention is to take a democratic approach to this undertaking by inviting shorter than usual submissions (3,000 – 3,500-word arguments), which will be published as a peer-reviewed symposium in one to two issues of Democratic Theory.

We welcome submissions from scholars working in different democratic traditions and from a range of academic disciplines. Submissions from scholars in the Global South and from non-English-speaking backgrounds are especially encouraged. It is also our ambition to achieve gender parity among the authors participating in the symposium. Colleagues are invited to address the following questions or ones like them:

  • What is democratic theory?
  • Is there such a thing as democratic theory? As Robert Dahl wrote in his Preface to Democratic Theory, there is no theory of democracy, only democratic theories…
  • What distinguishes democratic theory from political theory and/or political science?
  • What is the democratic theorist to do? What is the role of the democratic theorist?
  • What makes a theorist of democracy? How does one become a democratic theorist? Who is and who is not a theorist of democracy?
  • What is the history or genealogy of democratic theory?
  • What is the role of models of democracy? Is model thinking to be overcome or does it have a purpose in democratic theory? What are the alternatives to models of democracy?
  • Is democratic theory a recent, or ‘just becoming’, field of study? Or, is democratic theory a field destined to be (perhaps always) on the margins?

If you are interested in submitting a contribution to this symposium, please send a manuscript of no more than 3500 words excluding the reference list by April 15, 2019 to dt[at]berghahnjournals.comContributors are asked to consult the Democratic Theory style guide when preparing their submission. The link to the guide can be found here:


Workshop Democratic Innovations in Theory & Practice. Zurich 6 – 7 December 2018. Call for abstracts

The Doctoral Program Democracy Studies at the University of Zurich invites PhD students, postdoctoral researchers and advanced MA students for its 2-day workshop on democratic innovations. The workshop will bring together renowned academic experts and practitioners from the field of democratic innovations, with the intention to analyze how democratic innovations face opportunities and challenges not only in theory but also in practice; thus, seeking to foster a dialogue between academic research and practical knowledge. Invited guests ares:

• Joan Font (IESA, Institute for Advanced Social Studies, Spain)
• Brigitte Geißel (Goethe-University Frankfurt) * To be confirmed
• Leonardo Avritzer (Federal University of Minas Gerais, Brazil)
• Fernando Pindado (Participation Commissioner from Barcelona)
• Operation Libero (Representative to be confirmed)

For applicants who wish to present a paper or otherwise take an active role in the workshop (discussant or moderator), the deadline is August 30, 2018. Listeners please also register by August 30, 2018. Applications and registrations should be sent to Martha Sandoval (martha.sandoval[at] and Yanina Welp (yanina.welp[at] Paper proposals should consist of an abstract (max. 300 words). More information here: Call Democratic Innovations Workshop




Past events


Conference on the European Citizens’ Initiative 20 November, 2018

The conference is organised on the premises of the University of Antwerp, under the auspices of ACTORE. Please find the programme and registration details here: Programme ACTORE


The Deliberative Quality of  Communication Conference, November 8–9, 2018 at the Mannheim Centre for European Social Research (MZES; Germany)

We invite you to submit an abstract until June 15, 2018, via the conference website

Keynote speaker: Kaisa Herne (University of Tampere)

Roundtable on the future of deliberation research with: André Bächtiger (University of Stuttgart), Céline Colombo (University of Zürich), Christiane Eilders (University of Düsseldorf), and Hartmut Wessler (University of Mannheim).

More information is also found here: DQComm2018_Call for Abstracts


International Conference of the Participatory and Deliberative Democracy Specialist Group of the Political Studies Association in partnership with Participedia: Participatory Spaces in PerspectiveCentre for the Study of Democracy, University of Westminster, London, 5–7 September 2018

With Carole Pateman, Michael Saward, and Graham Smith

Call for Panels and Papers

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 Participatory and Deliberative Democracy Specialist Group of the Political Studies Association invites researchers on democratic participation and deliberation at all stages of their careers to discuss their empirical findings and theoretical conceptions of participatory spaces. The conference will provide a platform for exchange for international scholars in the field.

Please send paper or a panel proposal no later than 30 April 2018 to psademocracy[at] Paper proposals should be limited to a maximum of 200 words and should specify their theoretical and/or empirical approach. Panel proposals should contain a short description of the panel and three to four paper abstracts. The application of early career researchers including PhD students is encouraged. More information:

Conference attendance is free of charge. Participants and their institutions need to cover expenses for travel and accommodation.


ECPR General Conference, 22-25 August 2018, Universität Hamburg
Section: Democratic Innovations: Meeting Great Expectations?

Section Chairs: Nicole Curato, University of Canberra and 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.

The section programme is found here: ECPR DEMOCRATIC INNOVATIONS

More information on

At the business meeting in conjunction with the ECPR General Conference candidates for the new steering committee will have the possibility to present him- or herself. The Business Meeting will take place Friday 24 August from 13:00-14:00, in Building VMP 8, Room 105. Please note that each candidate can only use up to three minutes, since the meeting also covers other business. Alas, the SG has not funds, so please bring your own lunch to the Business Meeting. We will now notify the ECPR Central Services about the nominees and ask for the electronic ballot to be opened after the General Conference.

There were ten nominations to become Steering Committee member for the period of 1 January 2019 – 31 December 2021. The candidates are:

Professor André Bächtiger (incumbent) University of Stuttgart, Germany
Research Fellow, Dr. Nicole Curato University of Canberra, Australia
Professor Brigitte Geissel (incumbent) Goethe University of Frankfurt, Germany
Professor Kimmo Grönlund (incumbent) Åbo Akademi University, Finland
Postdoctoral researcher Valesca Lima University College Dublin, Ireland
Assistant Professor, Dr. Sofie Marien KU Leuven, Belgium
Associate Professor Michael Morrell University of Connecticut, USA
Associate Professor Stefania Ravazzi University of Torino, Italy
Associate Professor, Director Jane Suiter Dublin City University, Ireland
Dr. Basak Taraktas Northwestern University, USA

Of the current members of the Steering Committee, Joan Font and Graham Smith have chosen not to run for re-election.


III DELIBERATIVE DEMOCRACY SUMMER SCHOOL: Implementing Citizen Deliberation as a Democratic Practice, Turku Åbo, Finland 27 – 29 June 2018

The Finnish Centre for Democracy Research at the University of Turku and Åbo Akademi University has the pleasure to announce the third Deliberative Democracy Summer Schooland invites postgraduate students and early career researchers to take part. The summer school is held in collaboration with the Centre for Deliberative Democracy and Global Governance at the University of Canberra.

Keynote speakers are John Gastil, David Farrell, and John Dryzek. Other speakers include Maija Setälä, Kimmo Grönlund, Kaisa Herne, Peter Söderlund, André Bächtiger, Jane Suiter and Nicole Curato.

The three day summer school focuses on implementation of citizen deliberation as a democratic practice in relation to representative and direct democracy. The summer school program consists of three keynote lectures, methods sessions and paper workshops, where participants will have the opportunity to present their research and receive valuable feedback from the speakers and other participants.

There is no registration fee but the participants have to pay their own travel and accommodation. However, both international and domestic applicants have the opportunity to apply for travel grants. The summer school covers all meals listed in the program. Accepted participants will have the possibility to book a hotel room via a group reservation that has been made by the summer school. Prices vary between 49 € and 167 €.

Please fill in the application form to apply: for applications is March 9. Applicants will be informed about the decisions regarding successful applications on March 23 at the latest.

Email: molein(at) for more information, or check


8th Berlin Summer School in Social Sciences: Linking Theory and Empirical Research, Berlin, July 16 – 26, 2018

The summer school aims at supporting young researchers by strengthening their ability in linking theory and empirical research. The two-week program creates an excellent basis for the development of their current research designs.

In the first week, we address the key methodological challenges of concept-building, causation/explanation, and micro-macro linkage that occur in almost all research efforts. We strive for a clarification of the epistemological foundations underlying methodological paradigms. In the second week, these methodological considerations are applied to central empirical fields of research in political science, sociology, and other related disciplines. In this second part of the program, participants are assigned to four thematic groups according to their own research topics. The thematic areas covered are: “External Governance, Interregionalism, and Domestic Change”, “Citizenship, Migration, and Identities”, “Social Struggle and Globalization”, and “Democracy at the Crossroads”.

The program is characterized by a varied format comprising lectures, workshops, seminars, and one-to-one consultations. During the summer school, participants will also have the opportunity to present and discuss their own work extensively. Participants will be provided with hands-on advice for their research designs.

The school brings together a faculty of renowned international and Berlin-based scholars. Among the confirmed international lecturers are Donatella della Porta (Scuola Normale Superiore), Steve Fleetwood (University of the West of England, Bristol), Macartan Humphreys (Columbia University/ WZB Berlin), Nikita Dhawan (University of Innsbruck), Staffan Lindberg (University of Gothenburg), and Hendrik Wagenaar (University of Sheffield).

The Berlin Summer School was co-funded by the Berlin Graduate School of Social Sciences (BGSS) at Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin and the WZB Berlin Social Science Center. Details on the location and tuition fees can be found on our webpage The international summer school is open to up to 60 PhD candidates, advanced master students, and young postdocs. The call for applications is currently open. Applications can be submitted online via the application form on the summer school webpage until March 31, 2018. The decisions of the selection committee will be announced to the applicants in April. If you have any further questions, please contact the organizing team at summerschool.bgss(at)


Democratic institutions and future generations: an international workshop
Thursday 10
th May, 10.45–17.30, Centre for the Study of Democracy, University of Westminster

There is growing recognition that democracies tend to privilege the short-term to the detriment of the interests of future generations. This workshop focuses on theoretical and practical developments that aim to ameliorate the drivers of short-termism and orientate democratic institutions to the protection of future generations.

The workshop will be based on five papers:

  • Simon Caney (Warwick), ‘Democracy and the Future: Exploring Some Mechanisms for Addressing Wrongful Short-Termism’
  • Henrike Knappe (Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies, Potsdam), “Whose Future? Political Representation in Transnational Sustainability Politics”
  • Michael Mackenzie (Pittsburg), “Acting Through Time: Collective Action Among Non-Overlapping Generations”
  • Maija Setälä (Turku), “The Politics of Non-Existence. The Representation of Future Generations in Democratic Deliberation”
  • Graham Smith (Westminster), “What Role Participatory Governance in the Protection of Future Generations?”

There will be an assumption that participants will have read the papers beforehand. Please contact Graham Smith g.smith[at] if you would like to participate in the workshop.The workshop is co-convened by the Centre for the Study of Democracy (CSD), the Participation in Long-Term Decision-Making (PALO) project and the Foundation for Democracy and Sustainable Development (FDSD)

More information here: workshop_poster


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

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


Institutionalizing participatory and deliberative democracy, 11thNovember, 1.30–6pm
The Boardroom, University of Westminster, 309 Regents Street, London

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.


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 Universität Saint-Louis – Brussels & Universität 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


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.