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Citizen Participation in Decision Making
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  Active Democracy

Democracy is not what we have, democracy is what we do.
(Lappe 1993)

Australia's first Citizens' Parliament

Democracy is not dull or passive, itís a lively activity, hence the name Active Democracy. It might also be called Interactive Democracy or Deliberative Democracy or Healthy Democracy. So what is Active Democracy? How can we do democracy? The contents of this site may help to answer that question.

What does democracy mean to YOU? Do you define it as a system of government? When Lincoln said those fateful words in his Gettysburg Address--government of the people, by the people, for the people--he was speaking of government; he never mentioned democracy. Democracy is an ideal towards which many nations and small groups of people strive--where people genuinely share power. Frances Moore Lappe (above) speaks of democracy as a process rather than a system of government--a verb rather than a noun.

First Australian Consenus Conference

Democracy is not about representative government, and it is not about elective aristocracy or oligarchy (government by the few). To experience democracy we would need to create conditions in which democracy could break out. Often this involves working within the existing system--to institutionalise democratic processes. Therefore, ways are needed so that democratic processes can be built into existing systems of government, through improved forms of public participation. This site has many examples of that.

There are many robust, innovative ways to give citizens access to decision making by integrating these ideas into current programs (see links). If you want to consider some more radical ways of doing politics differently, consider demarchy or a citizen legislature or a people's assembly.

Go to Publications if you want to explore writings on related topics.


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www.activedemocracy.net is published by Lyn Carson under a Creative Commons License
Phone: 02 9351 4728 (Int +61) Email: lyn.carson@sydney.edu.au