The effects of participation in hybrid democratic innovations: real-life tests

Name: Jelle Turkenburg
Department: Public Administration, University of Twente
Supervisors: dr. Martin Rosema, prof. dr. Marcel Boogers, dr. Henk van der Kolk
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Project description

Democratic innovations such as referendums, participatory budgeting processes and deliberative mini-publics are increasingly combined with one another in an attempt by government to address democratic erosion and backsliding. But despite its popularity amongst governments, surprisingly less is known about the effect of these so-called hybrid instruments. As such, this research has the goal to study the effects that real-life hybrid democratic innovations have on citizens.

This study particularly focusses on the impact that these democratic innovations have on the political attitudes of citizens in the broader public. We argue that such a focus on the broader public merits more research as it enables us to empirically test whether hybrid democratic innovations can indeed have salutary effects on democracy as a whole. The questions that guide this research relate not only to examining whether hybrid democratic innovations have an effect on the political attitudes of citizens in the broader public (1), but also why (2) and for whom this is the case (3).

The aim of this research is furthermore to study cases that are located on either the local, the provincial or the national level in the Netherlands. Here, we benefit from the strong links with the field that our consortium partners like the Ministries of Interior and Kingdom Relations (BZK) and Infrastructure and Water Management (I&W) and the umbrella organization of Dutch Municipalities (VNG) have.

Methodologically, quantitative methods (surveys) will be combined with qualitative methods (focus groups, in-depth interviews) in order to answer the formulated research questions. That is, the surveys enable us to measure relevant attitudes and believes of citizens before and after the occurrence of such hybrid instruments and where applicable also during them (e.g. at multiple points during a participatory process) in order to assert whether they indeed have an effect on the broader public. The interviews focus on identifying the mechanisms that could play a role here. Ultimately, the findings are merged into an article based Ph.D. dissertation at the end of the consortium’s lifespan.