Institutionalizing participatory and deliberative democracy

Saturday 11th November, 1.30-6pm

The Boardroom, University of Westminster, 309 Regents Street, London

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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 of participation and deliberation’

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’