Participatory Spaces in Perspective

Contemporary politics is characterised by a variety of participatory spaces that 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 approaches to capture the characteristics of these participatory spaces. But, recent developments in democratic theory raise the question whether such “model thinking” might be outdated and needs to be overcome.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.

Conference attendance is free of charge. Participants and their institutions need to cover expenses for travel and accommodation. Visit Participatory and Deliberative Democracy's website for more details.