Available Now! Democracy in a Pandemic: Participation in Response to Crisis

By Tim Hughes

Former Director (2017 to 2021)

Published on

12 Jul 2021


Democracy in a Pandemic: Participation in Response to Crisis, a new book by Involve and the Centre for the Study of Democracy at the University of Westminster, is published today!

Covid-19 has highlighted limitations in our democratic politics – but also lessons for how to deepen our democracy and more effectively respond to future crises. In the face of an emergency, the working assumption all too often is that only a centralised, top-down response is possible. This book exposes the weakness of this assumption, making the case for deeper participation and deliberation in times of crises. During the pandemic, mutual aid and self-help groups have realised unmet needs. And forward-thinking organisations have shown that listening to and working with diverse social groups leads to more inclusive outcomes.

Participation and deliberation are not just possible in an emergency. They are valuable, perhaps even indispensable. 

This book draws together a diverse range of voices of activists, practitioners, policy makers, researchers and writers. Together they make visible the critical role played by participation and deliberation during the pandemic and make the case for enhanced engagement during and beyond emergency contexts.

Another, more democratic world can be realised in the face of a crisis. The contributors to this book offer us meaningful insights into what this could look like.

The book has been published by University of Westminster Press and is available as an open access download or paperback.

PDF    EPUB    Mobi   


Please get in touch if you require the book in any other format and we would be very happy to look into this for you.


The book is based on the "A democratic response to Covid" blog series that we have curated with the Centre for the Study of Democracy at the University of Westminster. It includes 15 of the original articles chosen to represent diverse perspectives and experiences on participation and deliberation in a time of emergency, along with five specially commissioned essays reflecting on hearing diverse voices, mutual aid, participatory public authorities, democratic innovation around the world, and the future for democracy. See the contents below.












The Editors

GRAHAM SMITH is Professor of Politics and Director of the Centre for the Study of Democracy at the University of Westminster and Chair of the Foundation for Democracy and Sustainable Development.

TIM HUGHES is the outgoing Director of Involve and a leading specialist in the field of participatory and deliberative democracy.

LIZZIE ADAMS is Project and Governance Lead at Involve, the UK’s leading public participation charity.

CHARLOTTE OBIJIAKU is Project Administrator at Involve and a member of the 2020/21 Charityworks graduate scheme.


Introduction, Graham Smith, Tim Hughes, Lizzie Adams and Charlotte Obijiaku


  • Some Things Are So Urgent That We Can’t Afford to Do Them QuicklyMartin Johnstone
  • The Perfect Storm? Emerging from the Crisis Stronger, Through Sharing What We HaveJez Hall
  • Building More Vibrant and Inclusive Democracies: How to Meet the challenges of Covid-19Sanjay Pradhan
  • Does Democracy Need a Time Rebellion?Roman Krznaric
  • Building Back InclusivelyDayo Eseonu
  • Ordinary and Extraordinary Stories: Including People with Learning Disabilities in Policy Development and ResearchRhiann McLean and Angela Henderson
  • Organising to Humanise the Gig EconomyAlex Marshall
  • Let’s Talk About Covid-19 EthicsDave Archard
  • Democracy – A Dish Well DoneFrances Foley
  • Learning How to Listen in a PandemicLaura Seebohm
  • No Justice Without Us: Respecting Lived Experience of the Criminal Justice SystemPaula Harriott
  • Participation on Whose Terms?Javier Sanchez-Rogriguez
  • The Queer House Party: Solidarity and LGBTQI+ Community-Making in Pandemic TimesFrancesca Romana Ammaturo and Olimpia Burchiellaro
  • Student Democracy in the Face of Covid-19Isobel Walter
  • Experts by Experience: Enabling the Voice of Survivors to Transform the Response to Domestic Abuse in the UKMartha Tomlinson
  • The Best Time to Start Involving the Public in Covid Decision-Making was a Year Ago The Next Best Time Is NowJon Alexander


  • Hearing Diverse Voices in a Pandemic: Towards Authentic InclusionRuth Ibegbuna
  • Mutual Aid and Self-Organisation: What We Can Learn from the Rise of DIY Responses to the PandemicMatt Leach
  • How the Pandemic Has Accelerated the Shift Towards Participatory Public Authorities, Donna Hall, Simon Kaye and Charlotte Morgan
  • Citizen Voice in the Pandemic Response: Democratic Innovations from Around the WorldAntonin Lacelle-Webster, Julien Landry and Ann Marie D. Smith
  • Is Democracy Too Much Trouble in a Pandemic?Archon Fung

Conclusion: A Manifesto for Democracy in a CrisisTim Hughes and Graham Smith