Democracy Labs

INCITE-DEM aims to enhance inclusive participation and civic engagement in different countries while expanding existing democratic innovations and dynamic feedback mechanisms by bringing together the different citizen perspectives in the European Union. 

A key aspect of achieving these goals is by motivating and empowering citizens to become the main contributors to democratic innovations. We do it through the Democracy Labs approach which is based on the deployment of a large-scale generative design research study. This research approach stems from the well-established participatory design practice and theory that focuses on evoking and sustaining creative thinking and systematising the transformation of the generated ideas into tangible innovative outcomes. 

Democracy Labs Participating Countries

INCITE-DEM will deploy Democracy Labs in six countries: Norway, Germany, Slovenia, Italy, Spain, and Portugal. We estimate to involve around 180 participants in total (about 30 participants per country).

The resulting step-by-step guide and a toolkit with the required materials to conduct the Democracy Labs will be available in the outcomes of this project. While the resulting guide and a toolkit account for the cultural and sociodemographic specificities of the six target countries where the Democracy Labs will first be implemented, it also enables sufficient flexibility to adapt the approach to other countries and contexts.

Democracy Labs Procedure

The procedure of the study (repeated in each of the six participating countries) includes a preamble, a period of two weeks for sensitising activities, a two-day generative workshop and a postamble. The procedure is facilitated by a distributed research team, supported by carefully selected and crafted materials, and planned with detail.

the graph that represents the activities of the democracy labs

The sensitising period happens before the generative workshop and is essential to prime participants for the workshop activities. Immediately after the sensitising period, participants come together for the generative workshop. During the workshop, the participants will generate collective imaginaries of democratic innovations through a scaffolding process that supports their creativity and expression. This process involves two days of activities organised around sensemaking, provotyping and collective dreaming activities.