Let the people speak: Deliberative mini-publics: A pathway towards a participatory democracy?

Franziska Eckardt

Research output: ThesisPhD Thesis - Research UT, graduation UT

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Solving complex societal problems demands wide societal support for policies to be legitimate. The societal support can be delivered by political parties, but given the strong divide between parties about many topics, and given the dwindling societal embedding of those parties (declining party memberships), there is a need for additional ways to retain societal support. Moreover, in response to the growing awareness that many of these societal problems (e.g., climate change mitigation; the Dutch nitrogen crisis) cannot be solved by the state on its own, calls for a more inclusive participatory society and more democratic renewal are becoming louder from various groups in society (see e.g., Tweede Kamer, 2020; “Betrokken bij Klimaat,’’ 2021). In doing so, the importance of involving the interests and wishes of citizens in political decision-making is increasingly highlighted. At the same time, the last decade has seen a growing interest worldwide in deliberative mini-publics, such as citizens’ juries, consensus conferences, deliberative polls, and the Belgian and Dutch G1000 initiatives. Some see in these innovative practices a way to increase citizens’ involvement in political decision-making and thereby make contemporary representative democratic institutions more inclusive of citizens’ wishes and interests. But despite the growing interest in these deliberative practices, knowledge about the functioning of different mini-publics, in general, is still in its infancy. Therefore, this dissertation aims to learn more about the functioning of deliberative mini-publics by examining the following central research question:
To what extent can deliberative mini-publics contribute to the greater involvement of citizens in local decision making?
To answer this research question, we focus in this dissertation on a certain ‘new’ type of deliberative mini-public that has become quite popular in the Netherlands in recent years: the Dutch G1000 initiatives. To gain a better understanding of how the G1000 functions, we used a longitudinal case study design and a mixed-methods approach that combines qualitative and quantitative data. By following three G1000 initiatives in the Dutch province of Overijssel over three years (period 2017 - 2020), we systematically analyse and compare the effects of the G1000 initiatives on citizen participation in local government.
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Awarding Institution
  • University of Twente
  • Boogers, Marcel, Supervisor
  • van der Kolk, Henk, Co-Supervisor
  • Westerheijden, Don, Co-Supervisor
Award date3 Sept 2021
Place of PublicationEnschede
Print ISBNs978-90-365-5218-9
Publication statusPublished - 3 Sept 2021


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