1st Edition

Deliberative Democracy, Public Policy, and Local Government

By Joanna Podgórska-Rykała Copyright 2024

    This book examines deliberative democracy and its practical forms and applications in local government public policy. Author Joanna Podgórska-Rykała explores the topic of democracy, leaning in particular on the origins of its representative variant. Analyzing the elite dimension of the concept of representation, she considers what historical and political events have influenced the contemporary shape of democracy and its understanding. How were democratic ideals shaped, and why are we currently experiencing a democratic recession? Why is the debate that should be integral to the functioning of collegiate bodies disappearing? Why aren't decisions based on evidence, and why don't decision-makers take into account expert opinions and stakeholder positions? Drawing on empirical research - interviews with city-level decision-makers - the author considers whether and how deliberative innovation can support the renewal of decision-making in representative institutions.  

    Deliberative Democracy, Public Policy, and Local Government will be of enormous interest to doctoral students and researchers as well as to practitioners of local government administration, civic leaders, representatives of nongovernmental organizations, and people interested in public affairs. It can also be used as an important supplement in courses on public administration, political science, international relations, law, economics, and related studies at both the undergraduate and the graduate level. 

    Introduction  1. Scope, Approach, and Methods  2. Representative democracy: Decisions are made by decision-makers  3. Public policy: Everything is about everything  4. Democracy: Governing through discussion  5. Is deliberative innovation the answer to the crisis of representative democracy?  6. Key Findings: How can the mini-public's experience support the renewal of the decision-making process of representative institutions?


    Joanna Podgórska-Rykała works at the KEN University in Krakow, Poland, at the Institute of Law, Economics and Administration. She holds a Doctorate of Social Sciences in the discipline of political science. She was a Jean Monnet Fellow at the Robert Schuman Center for Advanced Studies, EUI, Florence, Italy (2022-2023) and a National Academic Exchange Agency Fellow at the Faculty of Public Policy, University of Silesia in Opava (2020, Czech Republic). She is a recipient of the Polish Scholarship of the Minister of Education and Science for Outstanding Young Scientists (2022-2025). She is author, co-author, and editor of more than 120 publications. She has years of experience in project management and leadership of non-governmental organizations.

    "Podgórska-Rykała in her book combines reflection on issues central to the theory of deliberative democracy with research conducted among Polish initiators of democratic innovations. She skillfully argues for the more frequent use of such innovations in political practice."

    Janusz Grygieńć, Nicolaus Copernicus University in Torun, Poland

    "This is an important book on the place of public deliberation in modern representative democracy. By illuminating how local political elites view deliberative mini-publics, Joanna Podgórska-Rykała shines new light on the prospects and challenges of strengthening the deliberative capacity of representative institutions. Essential reading for anyone who cares about democratic renewal!"

    Carolyn M. Hendriks, Australian National University, Australia

    “This book offers valuable insight into the development of citizens’ assemblies across Poland. Podgórska-Rykała combines empirical research with interdisciplinary theory to address important questions about the growing phenomenon of deliberative mini-publics. This timely resource helps to understand the interplay between political elites, representative institutions, public policy, and democratic innovation.”

    Oliver EscobarUniversity of Edinburgh, Scotland, UK