Assessing (e-)democratic innovations: "democratic goods" and Downing Street e-petitions

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Abstract

In response to a perceived crisis of democracy, governments have trialed a variety of democratic innovations. How to measure the impact of such innovations is both difficult and hotly disputed. This article tests Smith's (2009) broad-based democratic goods analytical framework on what is often perceived to be a highly successful democratic innovation: Downing Street e-petitions. It accepted 33,058 petitions receiving 12,384,616 signatures. Downing Street made 3,258 official replies. Given that it is arguably the most prominent e-democratic innovation in the world to date, the lack of empirical research is very surprising-and worrying-because the perceived success has led to the wider adoption of e-petitions. This article will fulfill three principal aims: to test the veracity of the democratic goods approach for case study research, with a view to streamlining it for future work; provide the first detailed, theoretically informed analysis of Downing Street e-petitions; and make recommendations for the application of such systems more broadly.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)453-470
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Information Technology and Politics
Volume9
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2012
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Democratic innovation
  • e-democracy
  • e-petitions
  • electronic petitions
  • political participation

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