Media Release  

New Ash Center Book is First Comprehensive Examination of Participatory Budgeting in U.S.

Cambridge, Mass. – The Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation and Brookings Institution Press are pleased to announce the publication of Ash Center fellow Hollie Russon Gilman’s first book:

Democracy Reinvented: Participatory Budgeting and Civic Innovation in America

The first comprehensive academic treatment of participatory budgeting in the United States, Democracy Reinvented situates it within a broader trend of civic technology and innovation. This global phenomenon, which has been called “revolutionary civics in action” by the New York Times, started in Brazil in 1989 but came to America only in 2009.  Participatory budgeting empowers citizens to identify community needs, work with elected officials to craft budget proposals, and vote on how to spend public funds.

This book places participatory budgeting within the larger discussion of the health of U.S. democracy and focuses on the enabling political and institutional conditions.  Author and former White House policy adviser Hollie Russon Gilman presents theoretical insights, in-depth case studies, and interviews to offer a compelling alternative to the current citizen disaffection and mistrust of government. She offers policy recommendations on how to tap online tools and other technological and civic innovations to promote more inclusive governance.

While most literature tends to focus on institutional changes without solutions, this book suggests practical ways to empower citizens to become change agents. Democracy Reinvented also includes a discussion on the challenges and opportunities that come with using digital tools to re-engage citizens in governance.

Hollie Russon Gilman served as policy adviser on open government and innovation in the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. She is a Postdoctoral Research Scholar at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs and a fellow at New America and Harvard’s Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation.  She holds a PhD from Harvard’s Department of Government.

Advance Praise for Democracy Reinvented
“At this nadir of confidence in America’s political institutions, Democracy Reinvented illuminates a method of democratic reconstruction that begins in Brazilian cities and then moves to the neighborhoods of Chicago, New York and Boston. This book, the first assay of the varieties of participatory budgeting in the United States, shows how politicians and citizens can reinvigorate democracy by rekindling their democratic imaginations together.”— Archon Fung, Ford Foundation Professor of Democracy and Citizenship and Academic Dean, Harvard Kennedy School

“Civic participation and innovation is occurring through small and larger initiatives all over the United States and around the world through the use of new technology . This timely book offers important insight on this phenomena and reveals its potential and impact.” — Merit E. Janow Dean, School of International and Public Affairs and Professor of Professional Practice, International Economic Law & International Affairs, Columbia University

“In this high-tech era, the high-touch process of participatory budgeting reinvents how government spends money and, in so doing, creates a profound new mechanism for citizens to exercise power at scale. With great empirical rigor, Democracy Reinvented sheds light on a surprising democratic innovation taking place around the world in community centers and church basements that is reinventing the meaning of citizenship, transforming the relationship between government and governed, and teaching us how to create more effective tools for governance. Democracy Reinvented is an important and persuasively crafted contribution to the field of both participatory democratic theory and practice.” — Beth Simone Noveck, Jerry M. Hultin Global Network Professor, New York University Tandon School of Engineering and Director, The Governance Lab

“At its best, participatory budgeting leads citizens to ‘reimagine what is possible’ in how they are governed and govern themselves. Democracy Reinvented pushes past the hype that so often surrounds civic technology and participatory democracy to describe experiments that have actually worked and to give us a larger framework and vocabulary for civic engagement in the digital age. This is a book for political scientists and political campaigners alike.” — Anne-Marie Slaughter, President and CEO, New America

Democracy Reinvented is the ninth volume in the Innovative Governance in the 21st Century series, a project that examines important issues of governance, public policy, and administration, highlighting innovative practices and original research worldwide, co-published by the Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation and the Brookings Institution Press.

For more information, contact:
Daniel Harsha
Associate Director for Communications and Government Relations
Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation

Hollie Russon Gilman

About the Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation
The Roy and Lila Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation advances excellence and innovation in governance and public policy through research, education, and public discussion. Three major programs support our mission: the Program on Democratic Governance, the Innovations in Government Program, and the Rajawali Foundation Institute for Asia. For more information, visit

About the Brookings Institution Press
The Brookings Institution Press is the book- and journal-publishing arm of the Brookings Institution. All new Brookings Press titles are published in a variety of formats, and the Press is working vigorously to digitize its extensive backlist. With an eye to serving the global marketplace and increasing the worldwide impact of its publications, the Press aggressively promotes and distributes its work in international as well as domestic markets, licenses translation rights to foreign publishers, and partners with digital aggregators and e-retailers. The Press also provides sales and distribution services to a number of other research organizations around the globe. For more information, visit