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Civic education

Almond and Verba (1963) have already demonstrated the importance of citizens’ attitudes, skills and behavior for stable, thriving democracies: democracies can only consolidate if citizens accept democratic principles and act accordingly. Several proponents of participatory innovations have adopted this line of thought and applied it to participatory innovations. They argue that participatory innovations are necessary, because they have the capacity to enhance civic skills. Some authors even consider that ‘participating in democratic decisions makes participants better citizens’ (Barber 1984: 232; Fung and Wright 2001). Civic skills such as knowledge, or virtues such as tolerance, are assumed to be improved via political involvement. However, it is unlikely that all civic skills and virtues can be enhanced at the same pace and to the same extent. Some skills such as knowledge, for example, might be improved quite quickly and easily, whilst democratic virtues like tolerance might be more difficult to acquire (see also Talpin in this volume).

The discussed criteria are summarized in Table 8.1.

170 Brigitte Geissel

Table 8.1 Framework to evaluate democratic innovations

Input-legitimacy Inclusive equal participation Perceived legitimacy

Democratic process Deliberative quality


Identification of collective goals Achievement of collective goals

Civic education Improvement of knowledge Improvement of civic skills

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