Participatory Engineering in European Democracies: Can Democratic Reform Increase the Quantity and Quality of Political Participation?

Research question/goal: 

This planned project is motivated by policy initiatives in established European democracies to reverse downward trends in political participation through participatory engineering. I define this concept as the purposive attempt on the part of political elites to positively affect the quantity and quality of political participation by increasing opportunities to participate.The project asks about the effectiveness of participatory engineering with regard to the institutional level of analysis and the process of institutional choice. The impact of any effort to engineer political participation is after all dependent upon the question whether the best possible tool is being selected.The project asks in particular about the interplay between the policy level and the merits of particular policies in terms of participation on the one hand and the interests of rational decision makers who aim to secure the own political authority and their legitimacy on the other. It assumes that these two factors are to some degree in conflict and thus give rise to a reform dilemma. The project aims to study to what degree this reform dilemma arises in real world setting through what kind of mechanisms, and how it is resolved.

Fact sheet

2007 to 2008
Data Sources: 
Commissioned country studies; expert survey; newspapers, par
Geographic Space: 
Western Europe



Zittel, Thomas, and Dieter Fuchs (Eds.) (2007): Participatory Democracy and Political Participation: Can Participatory Engineering Bring Citizens Back In?. London u.a.: Routledge. [Routledge ECPR studies in European political science; 48] more