by SWPS University
This Conceptual Framework is the result of the first six months of our engagement in the EUARENAS project: collaborations, discussions and workshops - undertaken together with our project partners. These dynamic relations that occur within the Consortium has provided us a broad network of interrelated, yet different perspectives, experiences and attitudes. Our main focus was to recognize challenges and conceptual problems in the areas of political theory and philosophy, where certain gaps remain wide open and waiting for more empirical research and application.
A Conceptual Framework creates a structure within which those empirical questions are going to be asked. Therefore, such a framework should not only acknowledge the current state of the debate, but also challenge it by provoking questions, disagreements and recognition of uncertainties, both on the side of policy and science. We present the main theoretical fields of this project - theory of deliberative democracy, participation, urban studies, public management and governance - within the broader context of their emergence and development. With this document, we aim to ensure that all project partners have a shared understanding of the most recent concepts in the field, together with their multiple connotations and meanings.
The focus of this Conceptual Framework is to identify potential conceptual ambiguities within the scope of our project. Based on philosophical, theoretical and empirical evidence from the most up-to-date research, we recognize several potential issues that the EUARENAS project will most likely face, at least on the theoretical level. We indicate several topics and potentially inspiring debates within the fields of discourse studies, argumentative public policy, radical democracy, populism, leadership etc. Here, philosophy might play a supportive role for practical challenges of policy design, as it highlights inconsistencies and helps in translating most difficult theoretical or ontological debates into helpful, problem-solving approaches to the practical implementation of deliberative solutions.
Ideas outlined in this Conceptual Framework will direct our attention and sensitivity throughout the rest of the project. Those most important discussions will be thoroughly reconstructed and analysed within Work Package 1. Towards the end of the project, we will update this document with new ideas, solutions and challenges that will be taken from all other tasks and endeavours carried out throughout the course of the EUARENAS project. This update will be an excellent opportunity to summarize the theoretical progress achieved throughout the project.