Use this URL to cite or link to this record in EThOS:
Title: A sovereign people? : lessons from participatory budgeting experiences in the UK : a study of egalitarian and elitist democratic narratives animating the practice of citizenship, and their role in determining appropriate responses to the UK democratic deficit
Author: Blakey, Heather
ISNI:       0000 0004 6495 4380
Awarding Body: University of Bradford
Current Institution: University of Bradford
Date of Award: 2015
Availability of Full Text:
Access from EThOS:
Access from Institution:
This study explores the UK ‘democratic deficit’ through the question of citizen democratic appetite, taking the varying degrees of citizen mobilisation in different contexts as a point of departure. The ongoing struggles between (broadly) elitist and egalitarian democratic narratives provide an analytical framework. These narratives’ underlying values and principles are illustrated through the US constitutional debates. Through this lens, the UK democratic deficit can be understood (at least partially), not as a failure of the system but as a measure of its success in containing citizen participation. The Porto Alegrean participatory budgeting experience provides a contrasting example of the egalitarian tradition which has inspired similar innovations around the world (in some cases, precisely in hopes of reinvigorating Western democracies). This study presents evidence from two such UK cases (gathered through participant observation and in-depth interviews). Newcastle’s U-Decide programme and Bradford’s ‘Decision Day’ both represent an encounter between the two narratives, and enable the values and assumptions held by citizens, elected representatives and state officials to be explored. In sum, they offer a compelling case that citizen engagement is stimulated by a more egalitarian democratic experience. However, such experiments are also shown to reflect deeply embedded ‘representative habits of mind’, which are revealed by a direct challenge to the democratic status quo. The study emphasises the value of a ‘citizen-eye’ perspective which focuses on democratic experience over outcomes, and the need for ‘democratic activists’ as well as active democrats, in order to create and defend the ideological space for democratic alternatives.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available