From the emaillist summer '12:
I am looking for inspiration on new (?) or different or comprehensive forms of democracy (initially for a speech that I need to draft about democracy and human rights). Please would anyone be able to point me to good stuff/texts about democracy as a participatory (rather than representative) concept?
In case this is relevant to what you are looking for ..... I have been tremendously impressed by the concept of 'generative ownership' vs 'extractive ownership' set out in a new book by Marjorie Kelly. While I have so far read only the excerpts that are available online (http://www.bkconnection.com/static/Owning_Our_Future_EXCERPT.pdf?GA...), it seems clear to me that the structures of 'generative ownership' she is talking about operate in ways that are far more congruent with my notion of democracy and participatory process than are the ways of 'extractive ownership'. Here is one paragraph from the excerpt above that may give a flavour:
“....What’s under way is an ownership revolution. It’s about broadening economic power from the few to the many and about changing the mindset from social indifference to social benefit. We’re schooled to fear this shift, to think there are only two choices for the design of an economy: capitalism and communism, private ownership and state ownership. But the alternatives being grown today defy those dusty 19th century categories. They represent a new option of private ownership for the common good. This economic revolution is different from a political one. It’s not about tearing down but about building up. It’s about reconstructing the foundation of ownership on which the economy rests." (Kelly, M. Owning our Future: The Emerging Ownership Revolution, Berrett-Koehler, San Francisco, Calif. 2012)
By the way, it also seems to be full of stories, well told in an interesting and very readable style.
I wholeheartedly agree with you about Marjorie Kelly's new book. I picked up a copy while attending the 2012 BALLE conference in Grand Rapids.
Have looked at the concept of ‘Deep Democracy’? The term was coined by Arnold Mindell and it rests on “that special feeling of belief in the inherent importance of all parts of ourselves and all viewpoints in the world around us.” (From http://www.aamindell.net/category/ww/deep-democracy-terms/)
Arnold Mindell is the co-founder of the field of Process Oriented Psychology (or Process Work). POP is a radically inclusive way of conceiving our ourselves and our relationships with each other. In practical terms, it provides a framework for understanding the various conscious and unconscious processes that occur within and between individuals, groups, communities and nations. Deep Democracy seeks to apply the principles of POP in the belief that “the world is here to help us to become our entire selves, and that we are here to help the world become whole.” (From http://www.iapop.com/)
I have attached a paper which provides a more detailed (if academic) exploration of the history, philosophy and practical aspects of Deep Democracy.
Hope this helps!
This is a vast and fascinating subject indeed. So glad to hear that you’re looking into it.
I’d like to start by echoing Silvia’s plug to not forget direct democracy. Too often people who promote “participatory democracy” feel uncomfortable with direct democracy, especially the traditional forms of initiatives and referendums (IRI-Europe and its co-founder Bruno Kaufmann are definitely the experts on these). However, there are other forms of direct democracy where citizens make the decisions themselves like participatory budgeting (see PB Unit in the UK or the Participatory Budgeting Project in North America) or the various parts of the Campaign for Democratic Decentralization in Kerala, India.
For extensive listings and descriptions of a wide variety of innovative projects from around the world that involve different ways of “doing democracy” check out the wiki Participedia. The 2011 Rheinhard Mohn Prize on “revitalizing democracy” from the Bertelsmann Foundation featured some of these as well, with nice videos.
My favorite thinker in the field of public participation and democratic innovation is John Gastil at Penn State. He’s both very practical and willing to explore quite innovative approaches. Before jumping into his numerous books, you might want to watch some of the videos he has on You Tube. Tom Atlee also has some good pushing-the-envelope thinking on this topic, including in his newest book Empowering Public Wisdom. Peter Levine at Tufts sponsors a yearly Frontiers of Democracy conference -- you could look at what he’s written, as well as conference participants. In the international development world, John Gaventa is definitely a very important thinker.
In Europe, OECD (Joanne Cady) and the Council of Europe also study democratic innovations and have produced interesting publications.
You can also find very interesting discussions on this topic on the National Coalition for Dialogue and Deliberation (NCDD) list-serve and resources on the website.
I’ve been working in this area of citizen participation and democratic innovation for the past few years, first in Europe and now the USA, so it’s hard to know where to begin…