The Democracy Files

The Democracy Files is a resource of collected articles about democracy seen from the perspectives of us as designers. It does not claim to be a collection of fullfilling texts judged from the view of lets say political science. The files are under construction and we hope to be able to sort the sources in a way that makes them especially useful for people engaged in design for democracy.

The collection is put together by Harold Nelson and Birger Sevaldson with input from others. Please help with collecting relevant and important texts by sending them to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

If you have contributions and comments we are more than happy to receive them.


THE FOUR MAIN DOMAINS OF DESIGN
RELATED TO DEMOCRACY
 

(According to Ezio Manzini based on Victor Margolin)

 

1) Design of democracy:

It addresses the structural elements that function as frames and regulators of human action in a democratic system. It focuses on institutions (as: branches of government, agencies, bureaus, courts, and offices) and procedures (such as: laws, regulations, rules, and protocols).

2) Design for democracy:

it increases the opportunities for citizens to participate in deliberative processes. It focuses on transparency (which enables citizens to be aware of the on-going process of governance) and deliberative methods (which means the opportunity to be better involved in decision making processes).

3) Design as democracy: (added by Manzini)

it sets a stage on which diverse actors can come together and democratically collaborate in shaping their present and future world. It engages diverse people and publics in co-design and co-production processes concerning different aspects of their everyday life.

4) Design in democracy:

It refers to all the design initiatives that are particularly responsive to the goals of democracy. It may deal with the provision of human rights, and fundamental freedoms (such as access to food, shelter, health care, and education) and, more in general, with the transition towards a more resilient, fair and sustainable society.

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TYPES OF DEMOCRACY

 

Representative Democracy

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Direct democracy

 

Deliberative democracy

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What is deliberate democracy?

Video  

 

Local Government

Reflections on 25 years of local government reforms in Europe

Harald Baldersheim

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DEMOCRACY CRITERIA

 

The EIU Democracy Index

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The Democracy Index is an index compiled by the Economist Intelligence Unit, that measures the state of democracy in 167 countries, of which 166 are sovereign states and 165 are UN member states. The index is based on 60 indicators grouped in five different categories measuring pluralismcivil liberties, and political culture. In addition to a numeric score and a ranking, the index categorizes countries as one of four regime types; full democraciesflawed democracieshybrid regimes and authoritarian regimes

Five categories:

Electoral process and pluralism, civil liberties, functioning of government, political participation, and political culture

Here are the 60 indicators at the end of this document. It is from 2007 so this might have changed but it gives a picture of what defines democracy in their mind:

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Global Democracy Ranking:

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Democracy Barometer

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OECD Better Iife Index

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These indexes seem to ignore local democracy, participation, and work place democracy. The measurement of democracies in practice seem inadequate.

 

Comment:

Norway is ranking number 1 on several of these rankings. However, this does not mean that there is no room for a lot of improvement. Some suggestions for fields to work with are:

Information. How to help the population to understand society? How to understand the political system? Many people are not aware of their rights and possibility to influence in local democracy. How to understand the economic system in an age of globalization? Etc.

Long-term decision-making. How can design help with making long term decisions tangible and long-term consequences of short-term decisions transparent?

Local democracy and participation. Typically, the indexes mostly concern high-level government and voting. Democracy exists also between the voting and addition to voting. This is probably where democracy can be developed the most and where it is the most needed.

 


SOURCES FROM DESIGN

 

 

 
 

 

Victor Margolin: Democracy and Design in a Troubled World, 2012

Complete text of the lecture >>>>>

 

Policy Labs: Government laboratories to improve govrnment as service design.

MIND LAB in Denmark one of the first and with a agenda relevant for Design for Democracy

http://mind-lab.dk/

 

DESIS: Democracy and Design: What do you think? Ezio Manzini

Read here: >>>>>

 

Democracy and Design Platform

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RSD6 Environment, Economy, Democracy: Flourishing Together

Systemic Design Conference, Oslo 18th-20th October

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Making Futures. Marginal Notes on Innovation, Design, and Democracy

Pelle Ehn et. Al.

Prologue Laura Watts, Pelle Ehn, and Lucy Suchman

Read here: >>>>>

 

Thomas Binder et. al  Democratic design experiments: between parliament and laboratory

Read here >>>>>

 

The Democracy of Objects  – October 31, 2011

by Levi R. Bryant (Author)

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Per-Anders Hellgren http://forskning.mah.se/en/id/k3pehi gave an excellent key note speak at the ServDes conference in Copenhagen (http://www.servdes.org/keynote-speakers-2/#Per-Anders-Hillgren).

He is preoccupied with democratic processes  and grounds his work with Living Labs in Malmö by making connections between participatory design, infra-structuring,  Agonism and the creation of agonistic collaborative spaces, strategic design and maker spaces. I talked to him briefly after his talk and mentioned the SOD course and that it might be of interest for him to contribute somehow. 

 

Stafford Beer: Designing freedom:

Here: >>>>>

 

Design for Democracy lecture Dori Tunstall (2009) startfrom min 41:09 – 56:00 (15 min). 

Video

 

Designing democracy

How designers are changing democratic spaces and processes

Book by Design Commission.

 

 

IDEA

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PARTICIPATION, EMPATHY,
WORKING AND LIVING TOGETHER

 

 

PARTICIPATORY DEMOCRACY Igor Koryakov and Timothy D. Sisk

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Peter Jones Dialogic Design

Archive for participatory democracy

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Foundation for Human Rights

On participatory democracy

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Multiple Views of Participatory Design Henry Sanoff North Carolina State University

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The GocLab

Democracy demos

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Missions Publique

France

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Participatory democracy VS deliberative democracy

ANTONIO FLORIDIA

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The Problem With Participatory Democracy Is the Participants - The New York Times

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Participatory democracy VS deliberative democracy

ANTONIO FLORIDIA

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How politeness became a tool of radical democratic politics | Aeon Essays

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Catalyzing Empathic, Engaged Citizens:The leadership needed now must be integral, facilitative, and creative.
By Robertson Work

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WORKPLACE DEMOCRACY

 

Workplace Democracy Definitions Wikipedia

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The international definitions of Work Place Democracy nor the term Corporate democracy covers the legislated work place democracy normal in Scandinavian countries. 

 

Nordic Labour Journal Published by the Nordic Council of Ministers

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Ingvaldsen “Democratic Lean?” Doctoral Thesis NTNU 2013

Read here: >>>>>

 

Interesting statistics on workplaces

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The original Norwegian Hovedavtale (Basic Agreement) from 1935, also called the "Working life Constitution"

The document is registered as UNESCO cultural heritage.

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The Norwegian work environment law

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TRANSPARENCY AND VISUALIZATION

 

Knowledge visualization

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Risks of visualization

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GENERAL TEXTS ON DEMOCRACY

 

Habermas and Foucault: thinkers for civil society? by Bent Flyvbjerg

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ABSTRACT

Taken together, the works of Jurgen Habermas and Michel Foucault highlight an essential tension in modernity. This is the tension between the normative and the real, between what should be done and what is actually done. Understanding this tension is crucial to understanding modern democracy, what it is and what it could be. It has been argued that an effective way of making democracy stronger is to strengthen civil society. This article contains a comparative analysis of the central ideas of Habermas and Foucault as they pertain to the question of democracy and civil society. More specifically, the discourse ethics of Habermas is contrasted with the power analytics and ethics of Foucault evaluating their usefulness for those interested in understanding, and bringing about, democratic social change.

 

Making Athens Great Again

How does a citizen respond when a democracy that prides itself on being exceptional betrays its highest principles? Plato despaired, but he also pointed the way to renewal.

Read here >>>>>

 

AEON: The New authoritarians

 By Holy Case, associate professor of history at Brown University

Read here >>>>>

 

What is deliberate democracy?

video

 

Noam Chomsky: "Why you can not have capitalist democracy"

video

 

Can Technology save democracy

Fast Company

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Bruno Latour & Peter Weibel Ed. (2005) Making Things Public - Atmospheres of Democracy. Cambridge MA: The MIT Press.

 

Giulia Parola (2013) Environmental Democracy at the Global Level: Rights and Duties for a New Citizenship. New York, London: Versita.
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John Dewey (1916) Democracy and Education

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ECONOMY

 

Josef Stiglitz, The price of inequality:

Read here: >>>>> 

 

Stiglitz : Its time to become radical on inequality

Video

 

Lack of control on capitalist economy

See Stiglitz

Video

Video

 

Stiglitz about TTIP

Video

 

Robert Reich: Inequality for all.

Video

 

Thomas Pickerty : Capital

Video

 

Paul Krugman on Pickerty

Video

 

Inequality.org

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ON CITIES AND ENVIRONMENTS

 

De eier maten vår og ødelegger byene våre, Pål Steigan

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Zombie Urbanism, Jonny Aspen

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The criticism of urbanism is nothing new

See Jane Jacobs

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About the death of city centers:

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Deliberative Democracy and the environment
Graham Smith
Read chaper 1: Value, Pluralism and the environment

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THREATS TO DEMOCRACY

 

The Twin Authoritarians Who Are Endangering American Democracy | New Republic

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The Rise of the Thought Leader | New Republic

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Det uformelle demokratiproblemet

Anne Elizabeth Sties kritikk av EUs prosesser.

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The Alienated Mind - The New York Times

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The Intersectionality Wars - The Chronicle of Higher Education

When a theory goes viral

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Tech’s Frightful Five: They’ve Got Us - The New York Times

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America First? No, Says Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice - The New York Times

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Google Doesn’t Want What’s Best for Us - The New York Times

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Elitism

The Oxford degree that rules Britain

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On Bullshit Harry Frankfurt

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Mob rule vs democracy, Economiat

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The cult of ignorance in the United States

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On illitteracy

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How do people become informed now?

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‘The Death of Expertise’ Explores How Ignorance Became a Virtue - The New York Times

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The new dictators

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How Autocrats Can Triumph in Democratic Countries - The New York Times

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Habermas and the Fate of Democracy

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The Interpreter: When do democracies die?

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Daily chart: Declining trust in government is denting democracy | The Economist

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How Stable Are Democracies? ‘Warning Signs Are Flashing Red’ - The New York Times

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How to deal with populism: Snog, Marry, or Avoid?

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How to Culture Jam a Populist

Andrés Miguel Rondón

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Yes I know this is from a dubious website but the author makes some really good comments about how false populism is feeding on hate and is dependent on the divide in society. It makes a similar point as I made above. This could be a design project.

 

Democracy Disrupted

Thomas B. Edsall March 2 2017 New York Times

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