Research Projects

Research Projects

If you are interested in informing about your research project/s via the website of the Standing Group, please send an email including an abstract and a hyperlink to
info(at)democraticinnovations.net

 


Achievements of dialogic-participatory procedures – Meta-analytical Pilot Study on Participatory Budgeting and Local Agenda 21 in Germany

Prof. Dr. Brigitte Geißel, Goethe University Frankfurt, Research Unit “Democratic Innovations”, received funding from the DFG (German Research Foundation) for her research project (2014-2016): Further information

Detailed information about a job offer

 


the Center for Deliberative Democracy
http://cdd.stanford.edu

The Center for Deliberative Democracy, housed in the Department of Communication at Stanford University, is devoted to research about democracy and public opinion obtained through Deliberative Polling®.

Deliberative Polling® is an attempt to use television and public opinion research in a new and constructive way. A random, representative sample is first polled on the targeted issues. After this baseline poll, members of the sample are invited to gather at a single place for a weekend in order to discuss the issues. Carefully balanced briefing materials are sent to the participants and are also made publicly available. The participants engage in dialogue with competing experts and political leaders based on questions they develop in small group discussions with trained moderators. Parts of the weekend events are broadcast on television, either live or in taped and edited form. After the deliberations, the sample is again asked the original questions. The resulting changes in opinion represent the conclusions the public would reach, if people had opportunity to become more informed and more engaged by the issues.

A number of Deliberative Polls have been conducted in various countries around the world, including Britain, Australia, Denmark, and in the US, some national and some local.

 


Comparing Online Democracy and Elections (CODE)
http://www.projectcode.net/

The Comparing Online Democracy and Elections (CODE) project is aimed at helping us understand how the internet and particularly social media tools are affecting the nature of political campaigning and citizen involvement in elections. By looking at elections in four different countries – the UK, Australia, the U.S. and France – we aim to map the nature and spread of e-campaigning in international perspective. In particular we want to identify the extent to which parties and candidates from different systems are using new digital communication tools to interact with voters and to what extent this is introducing new mechanisms for encouraging citizen involvement in campaigns? The social media or Web 2.0 technologies are characterised by their user-centered orientation and parties use of them in elections – through initiatives like MyBarackObama.com – hold significant potential for opening up the process of campaigning and making it a more citizen-led process, allowing self-appointed supporters to coordinate, recruit resources and communicate the message. As well as opening a new channel for voter involvement, the personalised and viral nature of much the social media platforms is seen as having a ‘knock-on’ or indirect mobilising effect in that it may allow parties and candidates to reach new and perhaps more disengaged individuals, and draw them into the political process.

 


DIRECT and DELIBERATIVE DEMOCRACY (DDD)

In 2010 a working group “Direct and deliberative democracy” (DDD) was established which worked on instrument such as referendum and initiatives as well as on new dialogical instruments as well as combinations (“hybrid democracy”). It analyses the mix of online and offline participation (blended democracy). The relation to representative democratic institutions is a special interest.

We had meetings in Stellenbosch and at conferences in Montreal (2014); Madrid (2012), Bordeaux (2013) where we further developed the idea. The structure, sequencing, timing, the formalization, supporting actors (parties, ngos) as well as the role of new information and communication technologies became important aspects. DDD was extended analyzing its nexus to representative democracy (political parties) and demonstrative democracy (new social movements). It encompasses theoretical as well as empirical studies. What is the role of political parties and social movements in these processes? Who are relevant actors supporting these instruments? Can dialogical democratic instruments and instruments of direct democracy (Initiatives and Referendums) be combined. Do type, sequence and timing matter?

http://www.uni-muenster.de/IfPol/Kersting/en/uri/ddd.html

Contact: norbert.kerstin(at)uni-muenster.de

 


Deliberation Within and Across Enclaves

What is the future of democracy if political discussion and debate only occur among the like-minded? The project studies “enclave” deliberation in an experimental manner. The main research question is:

What are the dynamics and consequences of deliberation in enclaves? The objective is to explore the known risks of polarization and groupthink related to enclave deliberation and, at the same time, to study the possibility of boosting inclusion and deliberative equality through enclave deliberation.

Contact person: Kimmo Grönlund

 


DEMOCRACY: A CITIZEN PERSPECTIVE
A Centre of Excellence on Democracy Research
www.dce.abo.fi
1.1.2006-31.12.2014

D:CE was originally selected as one of the four Centres of Excellence at Åbo Akademi for the period 2006-2009; and for the five year period 2010-2014.

The research carried out within the realm of the Centre examines the development of modern democracy from the point of view of the citizen. It probes the notion that modern democracy has, as a result a fundamental social transformation during recent decades, left its earlier class- and party-based forms and developed into an Audience Democracy.  By combining an interdisciplinary approach with the possibilities offered by information technology and new methods, it aims at an analysis which is both comprehensive and innovative. As it brings together scholars from five different disciplines in Åbo and Vasa the Centre bridges both disciplinary and geographical boundaries.

The objectives of the project can be summarized in the form of two broad research questions:

– To what extent has a transition to Audience Democracy taken place?
– What are its consequences from the point of view of the citizen, and what action do they call for?

The first research question will be addressed along four thematic dimensions: Political Participation, Public Institutions, Media, and Individual, Group and Society. Under each theme, research is structured according to three central aspects: Citizens, Channels and Political System. Both syntheses of earlier research and new studies will be presented. Theoretically formulated hypotheses are consistently examined with the aid of systematic empirical data. The research is comparative throughout and based on quantitative data, systematic content analyses and comparative case studies.

In order to answer the second question, a platform for several kinds of experimental studies will be constructed. This Virtual Polity simulates a real-life society and will supply tools for deliberation among citizens, between the people and their representatives and within the political elite. It will also allow for testing of various mechanisms for electronic governance.

Contact persons: Lauri Karvonen, Kimmo Grönlund

 


Evaluation of Participatory Budgeting in Frankfurt am Main/Germany
http://www.gesellschaftswissenschaften.unifrankfurt.de/institut_2/bgeissel/forschung/buergerhaushalt.html

(May 2011 – April 2013)
University of Frankfurt, Department of Social Sciences

The project evaluates the first process of participatory budgeting (PB) in Frankfurt am
Main/Germany. It examines whether the cities’ own goals regarding its PB-process have been achieved. The main questions guiding the evaluation are: Does PB in Frankfurt contribute to an improved dialogue between the local political-administrative system and its citizens? Do the citizens provide the policy makers with decision-making support, especially with regard to limited financial resources? And, from the citizens’ point of view: can PB enhance tangibility and transparency of the cities’ budget? Do the local decision-makers take citizens’ recommendations into account?

Starting in November 2011, the citizens of Frankfurt were invited to provide proposals
regarding the cities’ budget for the year 2013. The proposals could be submitted via the official online-platform www.ffm.de as well as via mail or telephone. The online-platform also featured the possibility to review and comment proposals. In March 2012, during a oneday-workshop around 100 citizens discussed and prioritized the “Top 100”−proposals which were handed over to Frankfurt’s treasurer for further discussion in the local parliament. The scientific evaluation of the PB-process comprises an analysis of the online participation, standardized questioning of the participating citizens, participatory observation during the workshop as well as guided interviews with politicians and civil servants of Frankfurt.

Project Manager: Prof. Dr. Brigitte Geissel
Project Staff: Alma Kolleck
Martina Neunecker

 


Evaluating the Delivery of Participatory Environmental Governance using an Evidence-Based Research Design (EDGE)
http://www.leuphana.de/institute/infu/forschung/details-des-forschungspr…
http://www.edge-project.eu

Participation of citizens and stakeholders in environmental governance is widely believed to enhance environmental policy outcomes. This claim has, however, been challenged both on theoretical grounds and with respect to a lack of reliable evidence. EDGE uses an evidence-based approach: By combining a meta-analysis (case survey) of 200 published case studies, comparative case studies and field experimentation, the project draws on complementary methods with a high natural variety and thus external validity (case survey) and those with a higher controllability and thus higher internal validity (experimentation). Of particular interest for fellow researchers will be the searchable database of 572 case studies of environmental decision-making processes, which will soon be available at www.edge-project.eu.

Contact information:
Prof. Dr. Jens Newig
Research group Governance, Participation and Sustainability
Leuphana University Lüneburg, Germany
E-mail: newig@uni.leuphana.de
Phone: +49 4131 677-1726

 


FP7 Project “Impact of Citizen Participation on Decision Making in a Knowledge Intensive Policy Field” (CIT-PART)
http://www.cit-part.at

Citizens, policy makers and social scientists often call for citizen participation for reasons of democratic legitimacy and effectiveness. An important field in which this has been claimed vigorously is science and technology policy. Thus, many countries witnessed the introduction of Participatory Technology Assessment (PTA). The “litmus test” of PTA, and of citizen participation, is their impact on policy-making.

– But can PTA keep its promises and increase the influence of citizens’ voices on decision-making?
– What in actual fact is the impact of PTA on decision-making?
– How can we increase it?

In order to answer these questions the project “Impact of Citizen Participation on Decision Making in a Knowledge Intensive Policy Field” (CIT-PART) studies comparatively the impact of PTA and TA on policy-making in Austria, Canada, Denmark, Italy, Latvia, The Netherlands, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom, the European Commission, the OECD and the Holy See.

From that we draw conclusions about the potential impact of institutionalised citizen participation on EU level. We exemplify our questions through the reactions of various political systems to the challenge of Xenotransplantation (XTP), which stands for the transplantation of animal organs, tissues or cells into humans. XTP is highly controversial: Its advocates perceive it as promising since it could help to remedy the shortage of human transplants. Its opponents insist that it involves too many risks – most prominently infection risks – and ethical questions.

Adopting a theoretical approach of “social practices” we assume that the impact of citizen participation on decision-making is not only dependent on the quality of the PTA process itself but on practices of policy makers in which PTA is embedded in. Following from our theoretical approach we apply qualitative methods of empirical research. The research team involves researchers from anthropology, communication studies, political science, public law, social psychology and sociology.

All relevant information can be found under the following link: http://www.cit-part.at

Contact Persons:
Project Leader: Dr. Erich Griessler
Institute for Advanced Studies
Department of Sociology
erich.griessler@ihs.ac.at
fon: +43 1 59991 170
fax: +43 1 59991 555

Dr. Peter Biegelbauer
Austrian Institute of Technology
Department Foresight and Policy Development
peter.biegelbauer@ait.ac.at
fon: +43 505504 4589

 


Influencing Policy and Securing Accountability through Citizens Budget Watch in Orissa(India)
www.obac.in
www.cysd.org

Budgeting is an important part of the activity of the Government through which development policies and declarations are translated into financial terms. The National and State Governments declares lot of development programmes through formulating Five year and Annual plans. At the global level Millennium Development Goals(MDGs) are also formulated with stipulated time duration. In order to achieve the defined targets for the social sectors, adequate financial resources need to be allocated through participatory system of budgeting. The present system of budget making at the state and national level does not provide space for civil society inputs which is far from the participatory framework. This has become a bureaucratic exercise in which the legislative members, media, academics and other civil society groups are not allowed to put their suggestions on the priorities of budgeting. This is because there is lack of understanding on the technical components and the process of government budgeting. This project strives to deepen the civil society discourse on the public budget and polices, enhance citizenry monitoring processes on the macro level policy and micro level practices in favour of poor and marginalised groups.  Regular analysis of state budget, publication and wider dissemination , building the capacity of civil society organisations and individuals on budget advocacy and setting peoples’ priorities in the budget and policy making process of the state have been the areas of focus of the centre.  Research on the trends and quality of budget allocation and state policies verses spending on social sector provides inputs for the legislators to initiate quality discussion in the legislative assembly of the state. The project also facilitates number of discussion forums at the National and State level for enhancing citizens understanding on the budget process of the state. Different media groups are also fed with quality research outputs which enhance discourse on the budget issues of the state. At the community level, innovations are made to use community radio programmes through converting state budgets into local languages. The centre also tries to strengthen its research process through congregation of inputs from academics through building collaboration with the education and research institutions.

Contact person:

Pravas Mishra, Programme Manager
Odisha Budget and Accountability Center
CYSD, E-1, Institutional Area, Bhubaneswar, India
pravas@cysd.org

 


NCCR Democracy (Swiss National Center of Competence in Research „Challenges to Democracy in the 21st Century“)
www.nccr-democracy.uzh.ch

The NCCR Democracy is an interdisciplinary research program of the Swiss National Science Foundation and the University of Zurich. It examines the two main challenges democracy faces today – globalization and mediatization: Nation-states suffer a severe loss of problem-solving capacity as a result of globalization, while new political opportunities for democracy arise at the level of supra-national organizations and beyond the established democratic nation-states. At the same time, the increased role of the media for the political process constitutes a serious threat to traditional models of representative democracy and offers new opportunities for political legitimation.

The NCCR Democracy studies the two challenges in five modules made up of several projects: The first module addresses the opportunities for and limits to the spread of democracy, while the second module concentrates on the challenges to political decision-making in consolidated democracies. Two modules investigate the process of “mediatization of politics” and its implications for the political process. A fifth module deals with the questions of how to measure and how to enhance the quality of democracy.

Managed from the University of Zurich, the NCCR Democracy is organized as a network that represents an unprecedented disciplinary alliance between political science, media and communication sciences and other social sciences disciplines.

The NCCR Democracy started in October 2005 and will run until September 2013, with the possibility for renewal for another four years.

 


OpeningParliament.org

OpeningParliament.org is a forum intended to help connect the world’s civic organizations engaged in monitoring, supporting and opening up their countries’ parliaments and legislative institutions.

Parliamentary monitoring organizations (PMOs) are working to create strong, open and accountable parliaments, through enhancing citizen participation in the legislative process and bringing parliaments closer to the people they represent. OpeningParliament.org provides a forum for international collaboration on efforts to improve access to parliamentary information and share experiences and good practices among PMOs. It also serves as the home of theDeclaration on Parliamentary Openness, a set of shared principles on the openness, transparency and accessibility of parliaments developed by the international PMO community.

OpeningParliament.org and the Declaration on Parliamentary Openness are outcomes of a conference of PMOs co-hosted by the National Democratic Institute, the Sunlight Foundation, and Latin American Network for Legislative Transparency, in Washington, D.C. The conference, held from April 30-May 2, 2012, brought together PMOs from 38 countries worldwide to facilitate discussion of international strategies for improving access to useable parliamentary information and sharing good practices in advocating for parliamentary transparency and in monitoring parliamentary performance.

For more information:
Sarah Oh Program Officer, National Democratic Institute
Tel: (202) 728-5457

www.ndi.org

 


Participedia
www.participedia.net

Participedia is an open global knowledge community for researchers and practitioners in the field of democratic innovation and public engagement.

Practitioners, activists, government officials, and journalists will benefit from Participedia’s searchable database of cases, methods, and organizations, including knowledge about how well processes have worked for similar problems, under similar conditions.

Social scientists, policy analysts, democratic theorists, and other scholars will benefit from access to a dynamic, diverse, and growing source of comparable qualitative and quantitative data. We encourage you to contribute information on case studies, methods and organizations. The more you participate, the more you will appreciate what this site has to offer.

 


Political Studies Association UK specialist group on Participatory and Deliberative Democracy
www.psa.ac.uk
http://www.psa.ac.uk/spgrp/34/PartDelib.aspx

The Political Studies Association has a network of over forty specialist groups dedicated to the promotion of quality research within the profession. The Political Studies Association exists to develop and promote the study of politics.

We are the leading organisation in the UK linking academics in political science and current affairs, theorists and practitioners, policy-makers, journalists, researchers and students in higher education.

Membership of the Political Studies Association is open to everyone interested in the study of politics. It spans academics in political science and current affairs, theorists and practitioners, policy-makers, journalists, researchers, politics teachers and students in higher education. Membership has grown steadily and now stands at over 1700, making it the second largest such national association in the world.

 


Public Petitions
http://www.tab-beim-bundestag.de/en/publications/reports/ab146.html

Since 2005 TAB, the Office of Technology Assessment at the German Parliament, is investigating the innovation of the German petition system. This research takes also into account  developments in other countries. The first research project on “Public electronic petitions and civil participation” (2006-2008) scientifically accompanied the German Parliament’s pilot project “Public Petitions”. This activity has been continued in a second research project even after the pilot has become a routine service. This follow-up technology assessment project was again initiated by the Petitioning Committee. Corresponding to its focus it was entitled “Electronic Petitioning and Modernization of Petitioning Systems in Europe”. It continued the former project’s investigation of petitioning systems while strengthened the international and comparative perspective. The final report of the first project is also available in English (http://www.tab-beim-bundestag.de/en/publications/reports/ab127.html); a translation of the final report of the second project is in preparation. Further publications (some in English language) are available at: http://www.tab-beim-bundestag.de/de/untersuchungen/u147/u147-i.html.

Contact person: Knud Böhle

 

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