Public deliberation and democratic innovation, inclusion, representation
Carolyn Hendriks is an Associate Professor at the Crawford School of Public Policy at the Australian National University. Over the past twenty years she has contributed to international scholarly debates on the practice and theory of citizen engagement, democratic innovation and deliberative democracy. Carolyn has led numerous empirical projects in Australia, Germany and the Netherlands on the role of interests, power, networks, markets and elites in participatory and deliberative modes of governing.
Carolyn’s recent research has focused on exploring pathways for strengthening public deliberation in mainstream spaces of representative democracy, such as legislative committees and constituency service. She has also been studying how citizens themselves are seeking to transform dysfunctional democratic institutions, for example by improving connections between citizens and their representatives. Carolyn has a book forthcoming on this topic with Oxford University Press (together with John Boswell and Selen Ercan).
During her time as a Senior Visiting Democracy Fellow at the Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation (Harvard Kennedy School), Carolyn will be working on a new project exploring hidden forms of democratic innovation. Amid growing popular distrust in formal political institutions, some citizens around the globe are taking proactive and pragmatic steps to ‘do governance’ themselves, often without the state. They self-organise to create grassroot initiatives that develop innovative solutions to neglected policy problems, for example, in the form of renewable energy cooperatives or social enterprises offering aged care. Central to these citizen-led governance efforts is a participatory component where citizens are empowered to take on productive roles. Carolyn’s research is examining what lessons these bottom up approaches to ‘doing governance’ hold for promoting democratic renewal, especially in contexts of low institutional trust.