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Cover Comparative Politics

10. Democratic innovations  

Nicole Curato

This chapter introduces the theory and practice of democratic innovations, such as citizen-initiated referendums, participatory budgeting, and citizens’ assemblies. It characterizes what makes these approaches innovative and distinctly democratic by situating them in the traditions of direct, participatory, and deliberative democracy. The chapter critically examines the purpose and limits of democratic innovations, presents debates on how these approaches are being applied and institutionalized around the world, provides examples and case studies of democratic innovations from around the world, and concludes by putting forward provocative questions on what it means for citizens to meaningfully take part in democratic decision-making in contemporary times.

Chapter

Cover Introduction to Politics

4. Democracy and Political Obligation  

Robert Garner

This chapter examines the claim that democracy is the ideal form of political obligation. It first traces the historical evolution of the term ‘democracy’ before discussing the debate between advocates of the protective theory and the participatory theory of democracy, asking whether it is possible to reconcile elitism with democracy and whether participatory democracy is politically realistic. The chapter proceeds to explain why democracy is viewed as the major grounding for political obligation, with emphasis on the problem of majority rule and what to do with the minority consequences of majoritarianism. It documents the contemporary malaise experienced by democracy and seeks to explain its perceived weaknesses as a form of rule. Finally, the chapter describes the new directions that democratic theory has taken in recent years, focusing on four theories: associative democracy, cosmopolitan democracy, deliberative democracy, and ecological democracy.