The 2022 Best Paper Award is awarded to Julien Vrydagh (doctoral candidate, Vrije Universities Brussel and UCLouvain) for his paper “Managing expectations: what can and should we expect from deliberative mini publics?"
The paper contributes to clarifying what normative standards should inform the study, design and practice of minipublics when it comes to connecting these deliberative spaces to collective decision-making processes. Julien Vrydagh proposes to highlight a realist, “action-guiding” framework that connects empirical and theoretical contributions and that centres around two central criteria: the democratic character of minipublics depends on them being both consequential and transformative. The paper then considers what this entails for various phases of the decision-making process - agenda-setting, policy formulation, and decision-making - and formulates design recommendations. Such clarifications make several contributions: they help to better understand why, how, and when minipublics should be part of democratic systems and influence collective decision-making processes; they serve to evaluate specific instances of minipublics, and distinguish better from worse cases thereof; and they can constructively inform the design of minipublics and of the ways in which they should formally (and informally) relate to their context of implementation.
The prize rewards this effort to take stock of the recent developments in both political theory and empirical research to revisit these central questions to the project of democratization with and of democratic innovations.