I’ve recently been exchanging with some friends on a list of favorite reads from 2020. While I started with a short list, it quickly grew: after all, despite the pandemic, there has been lots of interesting stuff published in the areas that I care about throughout the year. While the final list of reads varies in terms of subjects, breadth, depth and methodological rigor, I picked these 46 for different reasons. These include my personal judgement of their contribution to the field of democracy, or simply a belief that some of these texts deserve more attention than they currently receive. Others are in the list because I find them particularly surprising or amusing.
As the list is long – and probably at this length, unhelpful to my friends – I tried to divide it into three categories: i) participatory and deliberative democracy, ii) civic tech and digital democracy, and iii) and miscellaneous (which is not really a category, let alone a very helpful one, I know). In any case, many of the titles are indicative of what the text is about, which should make it easier to navigate through the list.
These caveats aside, below is the list of some of my favorite books and articles published in 2020:
Participatory and Deliberative Democracy
While I still plan to make a similar list for representative democracy, this section of the list is intentionally focused on democratic innovations, with a certain emphasis on citizens’ assemblies and deliberative modes of democracy. While this reflects my personal interests, it is also in part due to the recent surge of interest in citizens’ assemblies and other modes of deliberative democracy, and the academic production that followed.
- Innovative Citizen Participation and New Democratic Institutions – Catching the Deliberative Wave (OECD 2020)
- Reflecting on Fifty Years of Democratic Theory – Carole Pateman in Conversation with Graham Smith (2020)
- Social deliberation systematically shifts resource allocation decisions by focusing on the fate of the least well-off (Ueshima et al. 2020)
- Is Deliberation an Antidote to Extreme Partisan Polarization? Reflections on “America in One Room” (Fishkin et al. 2020)
- Do discussions in like-minded groups necessarily lead to more extreme opinions? Deliberative democracy and group polarization (Strandberg 2020)
- Of democratic governance and revenue: Participatory institutions and tax generation in Brazil (Touchton et al. 2020)
On Civic Tech and Digital Democracy
2020 was the year where the field of civic tech seemed to take a democratic turn, from fixing potholes to fixing democracy.
- The Unintended Consequences of Democratic Reforms: Electronic Voting and Criminal Violence in Brazil (Nieto-Matiz & Skigin 2020)
- How behavioural sciences can promote truth, autonomy and democratic discourse online (Lorenz-Spreen et al. 2020)
- Demographics and (Equal?) Voice: Assessing Participation in Online Deliberative Sessions (Kennedy et al. 2020)
- Multi-trait diversity of online groups improves geo-political forecasting accuracy as a function of group size (Pescetelli et al. 2020)
- Closing the Gap or Widening the Divide: The Impacts of 311 Services in Public Service Delivery (Xu & Tang 2020)
- Political Dividends of Digital Participatory Governance: Evidence from Moscow Pothole Management (Gorgulu et al. 2020)
- Linking Theories of Motivation, Game Mechanics, and Public Deliberation to Design an Online System for Participatory Budgeting (Gastil & Broghammer 2020)
- What Happens to All These Hackathon Projects? – Identifying Factors to Promote Hackathon Project Continuation (Nolte et al. 2020) [spoiler, only about 5% of projects are continued after five months]
- Pathways Through the Portal: A Field Scan of Emerging Technologies in the Public Interest (Nucera et al. 2020)
Finally, a section as random as 2020.
- Contested terrain: International development projects and countervailing power for the excluded (Fox 2020)
- Insights from Transparency and Accountability Action Plans in Indonesia and Tanzania (Creighton et al. 2020)
- Review of the evidence: increasing accountability and reducing corruption through government audits (J-PAL 2020)
- Political Partisanship Influences Behavioral Responses to Governors’ Recommendations for COVID-19 Prevention in the United States (Grossman et al. 2020)
- Latent transparency and trust in government: Unexpected findings from two survey experiments (Grimmelikhuijsen et al. 2020)
- Citizens as Complicits: Distrust in Politicians and Biased Social Dissemination of Political Information (Bøggild et al. 2020)
- Reducing exclusionary attitudes through interpersonal conversation: evidence from three field experiments (Kalla & Broockman 2020)
- The Franchise, Policing, and Race: Evidence from Arrests Data and the Voting Rights Act (Facchini et al. 2020)
- Making Black Lives Matter in academia: A Black feminist call for collective action against anti‐blackness in the academy (Bell et al. 2020)
- Motivated reasoning and policy information: Politicians are more resistant to debiasing interventions than the general public (Christensen & Moynihan 2020)
- The effects of electoral Competition, party fragmentation, and air quality in Mexican Municipalities (Su et al. 2020)
As mentioned before, the list is already too long. But if there’s anything anyone thinks should absolutely be on this list, please do let me know.