Democratising Governance

17-18 November 2011


Over the course of the twentieth century and the new millennium, representative democracy has spread out. As a result, many questions have been raised about ways of making democracy more democratic. Traditionally, this has entailed a focus on the mechanisms and institutions that have sprung up around democracy. These have included the need for competitive elections and election monitoring bodies, a critical and engaged media landscape, a robust civil society sector, an independent judiciary, and political diversity and opposition. Today, such factors are generally understood to be the standards by which we measure any claim to a functioning democracy.

However, only very recently has attention been paid to whether or not governance itself should be more democratic. Governance is here understood as the complex array of practices that provide a degree of order and coordination at local, national or supra-national level. Governance involves governments but increasingly also other organisations and entities. Today, the extent to which governance can or is being organised democratically is an issue of significant debate with relevance for both conceptual and empirical research and for contexts ranging in scope from the local to the global.

Democracy faces many core issues in our times. This affects the way in which governance is - or ought to be - structured.

The Forum was structured around the following key dimensions:

1. Democratising Governance and Democratic Theory
As part of this theme, the main subjects under consideration will include the challenges that democratising governance poses to democratic theory (and vice versa), and the ways in which political theory may indicate ways in which governance might be conducted more democratically.

2. Democratising Governance in 'Western' Liberal Democracies
Under this theme, the focus lies in the ways in which governance has been, or can be, made more democratic in 'Western' liberal democracies.

3. Democratising Governance in 'non-Western' Democracies
Here, the discussion will be centred on the prospects of democratising governance in (more or less) successful 'non-Western' democracies such as India, Japan, Turkey, South Korea, Brazil, South Africa, etc. This theme seeks to move debate and focus beyond the confines of the 'Western' liberal model, and to come to terms with the lessons to be learned from 'non-Western' contexts.

4. Democratising Governance in Non-Democratic Regimes
Recent years have also seen important developments and insightful scholarly work that prompts us to consider ways in which governance can become more democratic in various non-democratic regimes. This theme will, thus, focus on democratising governance in: authoritarian/non-democratic states; transitional/post-conflict scenarios; and failed states/conflict scenarios.

5. Democratising Pan-Regional /Transnational /Global Governance
In this final part of the Forum, the potential for the democratisation of pan-regional/transnational/global governance will be addressed.

Download the conference program


International Speakers:
Professor Roland Axtmann (Swansea University)
Professor Prabhat Datta (Institute of Development Studies Kolkata)

Interstate Speakers:
Professor John Keane (University of Sydney)
Professor Simon Tormey (University of Sydney)
Associate Professor Roderic Pitty (University of Western Australia)

Melbourne Speakers:
Professor Joseph Camilleri (La Trobe University)
Professor John Langmore (University of Melbourne)
Associate Professor Paul Battersby (RMIT University)
Associate Professor Michael Leach (Swinburne University of Technology)
Dr Natalie J. Doyle (Monash University) 
Dr Michális S. Michael (La Trobe University) 
Dr Daniel Bray (La Trobe University)

Deakin Speakers:
Professor Geoffrey Stokes 
Professor Baogang He 
Professor Evelyne de Leeuw 
Associate Professor Andrew Scott 
Associate Professor Linda Hancock 
Dr David Hundt 
Dr Hans Lofgren
Dr Costas Laoutides 
Dr Andrew Vandenberg 
Dr Alexander Naraniecki 
Dr Steven Slaughter 
Dr Benjamin Isakhan 
Mr Dean Coldicott



Organising committee

Dr Benjamin Isakhan

Benjamin Isakhan is Research Fellow with the Centre for Citizenship and Globalisation, part of the Faculty of Arts and Education at Deakin University. Previously, Ben was Research Fellow at the Centre for Dialogue at La Trobe University and Research Fellow for the Griffith University Islamic Research Unit, affiliated with the National Centre of Excellence for Islamic Studies, Australia. Dr Isakhan is the author of Democracy in Iraq: History, Politics and Discourse (Ashgate, 2012). Ben is also the co-editor of The Secret History of Democracy (Palgrave Macmillan, 2011) and The Edinburgh Companion to the History of Democracy (Edinburgh University Press, 2012), both with Professor Stephen Stockwell

Dr Hans Lofgren

Hans Lofgren is Senior Lecturer and Associate Head (International and Community Engagement), School of Humanities and Social Sciences, Deakin University. He has published widely on the political economy of pharmaceuticals and biotechnology. Recent publications include Lofgren, H and Benner, M (2011) 'A Global Knowledge Economy?: Biopolitical Strategies in India and the European Union', Journal of Sociology, 47 (2) 163-180; and Lofgren, H, de Leeuw, E & M Leahy (eds) (2011) Democratising Health: Consumer Groups in the Policy Process, Edward Elgar, Cheltenham.


Dr Benjamin Isakhan
Research Fellow
Centre for Citizenship and Globalization 
Strategic Research Centre for Comparative Social Research
School of International and Political Studies
Faculty of Arts and Education
Deakin University, Melbourne Burwood Campus
Vic 3125, Australia
Phone: +61 (0)3 924 43934

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