🦋 Connecting theory to the messy realities of democratic innovations in practice

Two worlds

I experienced this disconnect firsthand last year when I joined the Democratic Society, a European democratic practitioner organisation. My aim in taking on the role was to strengthen my connection between democratic practice and theory, a long-held motivation of mine. Once I began, I realised just how different these two worlds are.

A mountain missing the mess

These pressures, these political realities, this messy reality; all are missing from Gagnon’s ‘false dream of orderliness’ manifested in a database of democracy. As others in this series have noted, we cannot understand the words of democracy in isolation from the ways in which different actors across different contexts interpret and enact them. If Gagnon’s aim is for this ‘data mountain’ to bolster democratic innovation then it must engage with practical realities. To my mind, such engaged scholarship ought to be fundamental to the ‘basic research’ that he advocates.

Understanding democratic practice

In our current research on deliberative integrity, one of our first challenges was understanding the concept of integrity as it relates to deliberative processes. Initially, it seemed simple. A process with integrity at least attempts to uphold the classic ideals of deliberative democracy.

A practically useful database

If Gagnon’s endeavour is to have any chance of encouraging and bolstering democratic innovation, it must do more to understand the realities in which practitioners operate, and what is needed to support and defend democratic innovation.



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The Science of Democracy

The Science of Democracy

Republished essays, in chronological order, from The Loop’s short essay series on the “science of democracy”