Time to revisit Associative Democracy?

Linked on our blogs with Renewing democracy through associations. – Published on openDemocracy, by Andrea Westall, 6 January 2011.

Revisiting Associative Democracy, an e-book, draws together the ideas and thoughts of a group of people who met last October to discuss, scrutinise and develop Paul Hirst’s views of Associative Democracy and their current relevance. The editor and seminar organiser gives us a tour de horizon of the ensuing debate to open up discussion. 

What are the limits of representative, deliberative or participative democracy? Is there anything else? How can all forms of democracy respond to the future and the environment? How might the language we use, and our unconscious assumptions, limit, or even disable, our ability to respond to some of the biggest challenges of our day? How do you understand and change systemic and complex situations, without creating catastrophic unintended consequences? And just how should we run, or think about, economic activity?

These are some of the big questions that sit at the end of society’s ‘to do’ list. Like ‘Change my life’ we never quite get round to them properly. We have lots of ideas but − through habit or the need for survival − we tend to put the action off for later. And we can’t do them by ourselves, whatever the self-help gurus or management consultants might say … //

… Going forward:

Associative democracy can therefore suggest some answers to the ‘to do’ list set out above. But do they sufficiently, for example, address the implications of the wider public interest, future generations and the environment for new models of democracy and decision-making. These kinds of long term or wider concerns pose pronounced difficulties for any form of democracy. But they also mark a critical area that has to be incorporated into any practical democratic developments. Contributors to this e-book made a start, suggesting the incorporation of public interest representatives in professional associations, as well as widened forms of corporate and multi-stakeholder or multi-interest governance.

Read the e-book for more information and see what else might inspire you. You might find a few lines are added to your own ‘to do’ list for this year. But, together with others, do make them happen. (full text).

Link: Revisiting Associative Democracy, How to get more co-operation, co-ordination and collaboration into our economy, our democracy, our public services, and our lives. Edited by Andrea Westall – Collection ©Andrea Westall 2011. Individual articles © the author 2011.
Download the book.

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