Do-democracy: niche, vision or hype?

How do you respond to the changing relationships between civilians, governments and corporate organizations that result from the upcoming do-democracy?


As a reaction to the changing status of the welfare state, communities and civilians are taking over the role of the market in the regulation and provision of societal needs. Therefore, new societal initiatives are emerging: cooperative models are being reinvented, as social entrepreneurship gains awareness and becomes more common place. Simultaneously, governments confronted with a dismantled welfare state, are recognizing the value of these new initiatives, and are consequently beginning to transfer more of their societal responsibilities to civilians.


Where the market has traditionally been seen as a guiding force in structuring society, now the role of the community and civil society is gaining prominence and attention. This shift can be attributed to both external factors (information technology, the economic crisis and increasing environmental concerns), as well as to self-reinforcing dynamics. As a result, we’re experiencing an increase in resistance, tension, uncertainties and questions. What is the impact of civilian self-reliance? To what extent can governments handle unwanted civilian support? And, most importantly, how can we effectively guide and coordinate these new and evolving relationships? The diversity of these issues and challenges, and the resulting need for effective guidance mechanisms, make it very difficult for governments to choose their direction.


The Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs and its new democracy team is committed to handle, guide and stimulate this development; to shape direct democracy and the accompanying new role of the government as a participant, partner and facilitator. How do we handle uncertainties? How do we assess civic independency, and how do we coordinate new relations and roles? To answer these questions, the new democracy team asked DRIFT to interpret the current changes from a transition perspective and to advise on the role of the Ministry in accelerating the transition. In our final report we describe a vision for the potential of the new democracy, the barriers to development, and potential leverage points. Read the full report (in Dutch) here.


Duration of the project

The project ended in February 2015



Client(s)/ Commissioning party

Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs



DRIFT team

Chris Roorda, Marieke Verhagen, Derk Loorbach, Frank van Steenbergen