Schools of Democracy offers a vivid analysis of the long-term impact of engagement in participatory budgeting institutions in Europe. While democratic innovations flourish around the world, there have been great hopes for their potential to revitalize representative government and solve the increasing apathy of the public.
Based on a rich ethnographic study in France, Italy and Spain, this book shows how participatory institutions can encourage personal involvement, by creating the procedural and social conditions conducive to the formation of a competent and involved citizenry.
Rather than deliberation itself, it seems that informal discussions and interactions between a diverse public allow mutual learning and the beginning of a political trajectory for people at the margins of the public sphere.
However, this book also shows that citizens can become disappointed by the little decision-making power they are granted, as they leave the process often more cynical than before.
A unique study on the long-term individual impact of engagement in participatory institutions. While most research deal with short-term impact, Schools of democracy addresses impact of participation after two years of engagement.
Unique access to the black box of participatory institutions. While research on democratic innovations generally opt for an externalist perspective, Schools of democracy details the routine of deliberative interactions, showing how ordinary citizens speak up in public assemblies. From this perspective, the book offers incredibly rich empirical material – coming from ethnographic research – on how participatory democracy works.
An original theoretical framework to the study of the individual impacts of participatory engagement. While most research are based on an implicit rational choice perspective, the pragmatist perspective adopted here sheds a different light on the studied phenomenon, stressing the co-construction of actors and their environment.
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