By Tim Hughes
Former Director (2017 to 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.
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.
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
Conclusion: A Manifesto for Democracy in a Crisis, Tim Hughes and Graham Smith