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Location: University of Nottingham

The workshop draws together research from a range of academic disciplines to explore the question of the compatibility between ‘network’ forms of governance and democracy in complex, multi-layered societies. There has been much debate across political science, public administration and related disciplines concerning the suggested shift from government to network-based forms of governance involving close, blurred, often informal inter-relationships between public, private and non-governmental actors.

Yet, the question of the implications of ‘network governance’ for the theory and practice of democracy in complex, fragmented and multi-layered societies is an emerging one with significant need and potential for further research. This question has been the subject of contrasting conjectures (Klijn and Skelcher 2007). Concerns have been expressed about how network governance might undermine democratic accountability.

The ‘networked’ character of governance, with its capacity to draw together various forms of expertise and to mobilise actors, has also been viewed as a necessary response to the complex, cross-cutting character of contemporary policy challenges. Indeed, network governance might therefore require a re-thinking of the standard assumptions of liberal democracy (Sørensen 2015).

To explore these emerging, under-researched questions, this workshop brings together contributions from across political science, public administration, democratic theory and related fields, exploring their mutual implications. Papers are invited, with either a theoretical/ conceptual or empirical focus, that explore one or more of the following key themes, across a range of geographical and policy contexts:

  • How should we evaluate governance networks and their implications for democracy?
  • What are the role of institutional design, governance strategies and tools and various kinds of political leadership and network management for the democratic quality and impact of governance networks?
  • What are the implications for exploring these questions of alternatives to the liberal representative model of democracy, including participatory and deliberative approaches?

Convenors: Professor Eva Sørensen (Roskilde University) and Dr Dan Greenwood (CSD, University of Westminster)

The ECPR Joint Sessions provides a unique format bringing international scholars together for extended discussions on a topic over 5 days. Each workshop includes 15-20 participants who submit a paper or document for discussion.

Find out more information about the Joint Sessions and this workshop

Closing date for submission of papers: 1 December 2016.