The Democracy Pioneers Award provides us with a unique opportunity to work alongside 19 cutting-edge projects to explore democratic innovation in the UK. Through this we are investigating the systemic infrastructure and large scale shifts needed to grow emerging projects and the conditions for a wider movement that will help grow the democracy and civic participation that is needed for the coming decades. We aspire to work in an iterative fashion - valuing inputs from others as we develop our findings throughout the programme.
The first of our outputs is a working paper which sets out a framework for democratic innovation which grounds our work in response to three key challenge areas facing democracy, which are proving even more relevant in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic. There is a need to: increase democratic inclusion, improve effectiveness of democratic systems and boost participation.
Drawing inspiration from a number of existing typologies and categorisations, our framework consists of four interacting levels:
Through a more nuanced understanding of the complexity of any one initiative, the framework provides us with a lens through which we can explore the ecosystem of democratic innovation in the UK: what are the spaces for innovation across sectors, which functions of democracy do existing innovations support and where are the gaps?
‘A framework for understanding trends in democratic innovation’ explores key trends, sets out different lenses through which to view democratic innovation and outlines some of our key initial findings and next steps.
In the next stages of our research we will be using this framework with the Democracy Pioneers to further understand why it is easier to innovate in some parts than in others, testing it with real life examples. We will also explore what the ecosystem covered by this framework could look like if we addressed the barriers to innovation and what would need to happen to support democratic innovations to start, scale and interact in that way.
We’d love to hear your feedback on this paper and our future work as we learn together what’s possible within the field of democratic innovation and what the future could hold. Tweet us using the hashtag #DemocracyPioneers, add a comment on this blog or drop us an email at democracypioneers[at]nesta.org.uk.