Democratic Innovation: Theoretical and Practical Challenges of Evaluation


Workshop and book project

Democracy is a variable and not a constant; it transforms over time as social, economic, and political circumstances and prerequisites change. The increasing decline of political satisfaction and political trust is a challenge that most countries have been coping with for several years. Many western governments have experimented, tested, and implemented innovations with the aim of enhancing the working and quality of democracy as well as increasing citizens’ political awareness and understanding of political matters. Nevertheless, currently there is no research network or group concerned with the systematic evaluation of these innovations neither in Europe nor in North America nor in the international scholarly community. The present demand for evaluation of democratic innovations is, unfortunately, accompanied by a lack of systematic research on innovations designed to combat the trend of increasing political discontent. The Social Science Research Center Berlin (WZB) held a conference with the goal of pooling theoretical and empirical knowledge about democratic innovations in order to discuss their impact on democratic quality, to debate the challenges of evaluation, and to develop future research strategies. These topics will be more thoroughly discussed in an edited volume based on the contributions to the workshop.