About Us

Welcome to our website!

Our network explores questions of citizens empowerment, civic participation and representation, and was started in 2021 by researchers at the University of Exeter, UK, and Fudan University, Shanghai, PRC. This site aims to introduce to you to our members, showcase our research and provide details of workshops, conferences and other events, past and future.

Driven by a desire to exchange knowledge on empowerment, participation and representation across political subdisciplines, our affiliates span Public Administration, Political Theory, Comparative Politics and International Relations. Please follow the ‘Network members’ tab for more information about each of us.

Our empirical focus is primarily Europe and China. We aim to bring research on participatory and representative innovations in these two geographical locales into conversation with one another, in order to contribute towards non-Western-centric theory-building, as well as towards comparative understandings of practices and processes of grassroots civic engagement.

More specifically, our interests in this area comprise three over strands:

Citizens empowerment: Here we explore the meanings and forms that empowerment can take in different political and cultural contexts, as well as the mechanisms employed in various local settings to elicit and foster citizens’ empowerment, from Devon to Shanghai.

Political representation: Here we ask questions about the ways in which grassroots democratic innovations disrupt the existing representative structures, and we examine the way in which rising global populism and authoritarianism are breeding new forms of representation. Our members explore these trends in the UK and France but also in urban China.

Civic participation: This strand explores what participatory governance means in different political contexts. It examines citizens participation in relation to forms of regulatory governance, and considers how different types of regulatory state generate different forms of participation, from the regulatory states of liberal democracies to regulation in a one-party state.