Citizens Assemblies in times of crisis

Innovation: The European Journal of Social Science Research: “Citizens Assemblies in times of crisis”

Innovation: The European Journal of Social Science Research invites researchers to submit their papers for the special issue Citizens Assemblies in times of crisis.

Citizens’ assemblies and other sortition-based participation methods are trending around the world. As a means to involve citizens directly in political decision-making, the method of citizens’ assemblies has been applied in a broad variety of thematic fields, political settings, and geographical contexts. But can citizens’ assemblies also contribute to problem-solving in the event of a crisis?

The method became well-known in particular through two examples in Ireland, where citizens’ councils were used in a situation of political stagnation: The parliament could not find a majority solution to reform abortion law or answer the question of same-sex marriage. With the help of citizens assemblies recommendations to solve the question at stake were developed and published. Based on these recommendations, referendums were held with a majority of the Irish population following the suggestions of the citizens’ assembly.

The character of crises can be extremely diverse. What crises have in common is that they put a system under shock and demand for a strong political response and a substantial change, which often affects social life. Looking at some recent examples, we would like to discuss: Can citizens assemblies help to find political answers to crises and facilitate social change?

Below you find a list of a number of citizens’ assemblies, which did address societal crises. The papers shall present retrospective analyses on the effects of theses and comparable citizens assemblies.

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