Review – Popular Democracy: the Participation Paradox

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Though you wouldn’t know it from the title, Popular Democracy is about participatory budgeting, full stop. It’s a fantastic little book (213 pgs) that’s both accessible and illustrative, leveraging an ethnographic account of several participatory budgeting case studies to argue for the potential power of participatory mechanisms more broadly. It’s a casually written book that’s a pleasure to read, both because the authors serve up juicy details on the “secret histories” of their case studies (though they deny it’s their intention, 137), and because the theoretical claims that those cases support are provocative.

The book is divided up into six chapters. The first two set the frame for the book historically and theoretically, describing the international rise and dissemination of PB as a policy meme. Chapters three through five present ethnographies of individual case studies, and the closing chapter draws some grand conclusions.

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Book Review: The Global Impact of Open Data

catThe Global Impact of Open Data: Key Findings from Detailed Case Studies Around the World
By Stefaan Verhulst, Andrew Young
Publisher: O’Reilly
Released: September 2016

 

 

 

 

O’Reilly recently released a book documenting GovLab’s case studies on open data impact around the world. Some of the key findings were presented for feedback at the IODC last week, and were forecast in a report released some months ago. This book includes full versions of all 19 country case studies, so weighs in at a whopping 459 pages, daunting for many. Continue reading “Book Review: The Global Impact of Open Data”

New Research Guide on Open Data and Accountabiltiy

The GSDRC is a resource centre that synthesises and summarizes research for use in international development programming. It’s a great initiative for making scholarly work relevant and useful in the real world, and last week they released a new topic guide on open data and accountability. I was excited to take a look, as I’ve previously found their guides and responses to research help desk queries to be insightful and useful. This guide builds on work about infomediaries and CSOs holding governments to account, which the GSDRC produced in the last year or so, and provides a strong overview in an easily accessible format for program designers. I felt that it fell short in a few important ways, though, especially by relying on the usual academic suspects, by skipping some of the most important scholarly debates and dynamics for transparency programming, and by not directly addressing the significantly nascent state of research on the topic. Continue reading “New Research Guide on Open Data and Accountabiltiy”