The question can be raised whether the principal effect of interactive policy development is to shore up a (creaking) democratic system or to destabilize its very foundations. In this article, a framework is presented for assessing the democratic credentials of interactive policy development. It is based on four views on how a democracy should work: instrumental or substantial democracy and direct or indirect democracy. Critics and advocates differ in their confidence that the intended aims can ever be realized. Based on extensive case study material of interactive local policy development projects collected between 1997 and 2001, the validity of the various arguments for or against interactive policy-making is analysed. The analysis indicates that whether interactive policy development undermines or sustains democracy depends principally on the extent to which divergences in the expectations of the various groups are made explicit and unrealistic or mistaken expectations are dispelled.
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About the Author(s)
Igor S. Mayer is a senior associate professor in the faculty of Technology, Policy and Management (TPM) at Delft University of Technology, the Netherlands. He is also the director of CPS, the TU-Delft Centre for Serious Gaming. He is a co-founder and a board member of SAGANET– the Netherlands’ Simulation and Gaming Association – as well as GaLA, the European Network of Excellence in Serious Games (2010-2014) and a member of the Netherlands Institute of Government (NIG). He is an associate editor of Simulation & Gaming and Policy Studies Journal. His subjects of interest regard the development, use and evaluation of interactive and participatory methods for policy analysis and policy development in general, and gaming-simulation, serious games, virtual worlds in particular.