Participatory Democracy in brief

Participatory democracy is a process emphasizing the broad participation (decision making) of constituents in the direction and operation of political systems. While etymological roots imply that any democracy would rely on the participation of its citizens (the Greek demos and kratos combine to suggest that "the people rule"), traditional representative democracies tend to limit citizen participation to voting, leaving actual governance to politicians.

Participatory democracy strives to create opportunities for all members of a political group to make meaningful contributions to decision-making, and seeks to broaden the range of people who have access to such opportunities.

Because so much information must be gathered for the overall decision-making process to succeed, technology may provide important forces leading to the type of empowerment needed for participatory models, especially those technological tools that enable community narratives and correspond to the accretion of knowledge.

Some scholars argue for refocusing the term 'participatory democracy' on community-based activity within the domain of civil society, based on the belief that a strong non-governmental public sphere is a precondition for the emergence of a strong liberal democracy.[1] These scholars tend to stress the value of separation between the the realm of civil society and the formal political realm.[2]

Political variants

Political variants of participatory democracy include:

  •  Anticipatory democracy a theory of civics relying on democratic decision making that takes into account predictions of future events that have some credibility with the electorate. It closely resembles the civic ideal of technocracy.
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  • Consensus democracy – the application of consensus decision making to the process of legislation in a democracy. It is characterised by a decision making structure which involves and takes into account as broad a range of opinions as possible, as opposed to systems where
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  • Deliberative democracy – also sometimes called discursive democracy, is a term used by some political theorists, to refer to any system of political decisions based on some tradeoff of consensus decision making and representative democracy.
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  • Direct democracy – classically termed pure democracy,[1] comprises a form of democracy and theory of civics wherein sovereignty is lodged in the assembly of all citizens who choose to participate.  It evolves from Athenian democracy (sometimes called classical democracy) was the democratic system developed in the Greek city-state of Athens (comprising the central city-state of Athens and its surrounding territory Attica).
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  • Non-partisan democracy – (also no-party democracy) is a system of representative government or organization such that universal and periodic elections (by secret ballot) take place without reference to political parties or even the speeches, campaigns, nominations, or other
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  • Grassroots democracy – an alternative term that has been used to imply almost any combination of the above.

Representative democracy is not generally considered participatory but it tends to evolve by adopting participatory mechanisms and tools. Bioregional democracy is often but not necessarily participatory.  

Participatory politics (or parpolity) is a long-range political theory that also incorporates many of the above and strives to create a political system that will allow people to participate in politics, as much as possible in a face-to-face manner.

Panocracy also has similarities with participatory democracy. However, it avoids the concept of demos or the people having a single view with the inevitable limitations that come from trying to agree what that view is. It also avoids the expectations that attach to anything called democracy.

New concepts such as open source governance seek to radically increase participation through electronic collaboration tools such as wikis.

Social democracy is a political ideology that emerged in the late 19th century out of the socialist movement.[1] Modern social democracy is unlike socialism in the Marxist sense, which aims to replace the capitalist system entirely; instead, social democrats aim …
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Other forms of Democracy

Representative Democracy is a form of government founded on the principles of popular sovereignty by the people's representatives. The representatives form an independent ruling body (for an election period) charged with the responsibility of acting in the people's interest, but not as their proxy representatives—i.e., not necessarily always according to their wishes, but with enough authority to exercise swift and resolute initiative in the face of changing circumstances.

Liberal democracy is a form of government. It is a representative democracy in which the ability of the elected representatives to exercise decision-making power is subject to the rule of law, and usually moderated by a constitution that emphasizes the protection of the rights and freedoms of individuals, and which places constraints on the leaders and on the extent to which the will of the majority can be exercised against the rights of minorities (see civil liberties).

A republican democracy is a republic which has democratic forms of government. A republic in the modern understanding is a nation or state where the people are sovereign. It is not a monarchy, where the king or queen is the head of state.

Soviet democracy (sometimes called council democracy or people’s democracy) is a form of government in which workers' councils called "soviets" consisting of worker-elected delegates form organs of power. The soviets begin at the local level and onto a national parliament-like assembly.


External links


1. ^ Alternative Conceptions of Civil Society, edited by Simone Chambers and Will Kymlicka (Princeton University Press, 2002)
2. ^ The Idea of Civil Society, by Adam B. Seligman (Princeton University Press, 1992)

See also

Note:  This article is excerpted from an article on Wikipedia® - the free encyclopedia created and edited by online user community. The text has been edited by our Participatory Democracy staff  to make it more concise while introducing additional terms and views. Although the vast majority of the Wikipedia® encyclopedia articles provide accurate and timely information, please do not assume the accuracy of all links and definitions in this particular article. This article has been adapted and is distributed under the terms of GNU Free Documentation License.

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