Mending Democracy: Democratic Repair in Disconnected Times

Carolyn Hendriks, Selen Ayirtman Ercan, John Boswell

Research output: Book/ReportBookpeer-review

64 Citations (Scopus)


This book advances the idea of democratic mending in response to the growing problem of disconnections in contemporary democracies. Around the globe vital connections in our democratic systems are wearing thin, especially between citizens and their elected representatives, between citizens in polarized public spheres, and between citizens and their complex governance systems. The wide scale of disrepair in our democratic fabric cannot realistically be patched over through institutional redesign or one-off innovation. Instead this book calls for a more connective and systemic approach to repairing democracies. For reform inspiration the authors engage in a critical dialogue between systems thinking in deliberative democracy and contemporary practices of political participation. They present three rich empirical cases of how everyday actors — citizens, community groups, administrators, and elected officials—are seeking to create and strengthen democratic connections in unpromising or challenging circumstances. The cases uncover the practical and varied work of democratic mending; these are small-scale, incremental interventions aimed at repairing disconnects in different parts of democratic systems. The empirical insights revealed in this book push forward ideas on connectivity in democratic theory and practice. They demonstrate that even in moments of dysfunctional disconnection, considerable learning, adaptation, and improvisation for democratic renewal can emerge. Ultimately, this book pioneers an approach to analysing democratic politics which might spark a ‘connective turn’ in the way scholars and practitioners think about and seek to improve democracy at the large scale.

Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationUnited Kingdom
PublisherOxford University Press
Number of pages187
ISBN (Electronic)9780198843054
ISBN (Print)9780198843054
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2020


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