Revisiting Associative Democracy

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co-ordination and collaboration into our economy, our democracy, our public services, and our lives . Ed. by Andrea Westhall, 2011

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an e-book, draws together the ideas and thoughts of a group of people who met last October to discuss, scrutinise and develop Paul Hirst’s views of Associative Democracy and their current relevance.


Andrea Westhall:

"What are the limits of representative, deliberative or participative democracy? Is there anything else? How can all forms of democracy respond to the future and the environment? How might the language we use, and our unconscious assumptions, limit, or even disable, our ability to respond to some of the biggest challenges of our day? How do you understand and change systemic and complex situations, without creating catastrophic unintended consequences? And just how should we run, or think about, economic activity?

These are some of the big questions that sit at the end of society’s ‘to do’ list. Like ‘Change my life’ we never quite get round to them properly. We have lots of ideas but − through habit or the need for survival − we tend to put the action off for later. And we can’t do them by ourselves, whatever the self-help gurus or management consultants might say.

In order to break out of habitual ways of thinking, or to promote creativity, sometimes it is worth focusing on ideas or approaches that challenge and provoke you. This was the thinking that brought together a group of people around a particular text and a particular concept. Associative Democracy, a book by Paul Hirst, was written in 1994." (