GEM PhD School

Globalisation, Europe & Multilateralism

Erasmus Mundus Joint Doctorate

Academic Degrees & Titles

John Parkinson is Associate Professor of Public Policy. Dr Parkinson is director of the new MA in Public Policy that starts in the 2011-2012 academic year. He is also module director of Introduction to Politics

There are more details on Dr Parkinson's work as well as a blog on his personal website,


  • Undergraduate studies in Anthropology and English Literature at Victoria University of Wellington. 
  • Three years in local radio and the NZ Ministry of Defence. MA in Political Studies at the University of Auckland.  
  • PhD with panel John Dryzek, Bob Goodin and John Uhr,  Australian National University in 2000 

Research Area(s)

Dr. Parkinson’s research encompasses deliberative experiments in the UK's National Health Service, the requirements of public space in a democracy, and now a new project on how well democratic societies share public claims.

Specific Research Interest(s)

He specialises in the conceptual analysis of policy, political relationships and institutions, covering things like deliberative democracy and democratic innovation; public participation in policy making; and the narrative, performative aspects of policy and politics. He has written on deliberative experiments in the UK National Health Service, referendums around the world, symbolic representation in capital cities and much more. 


Dr Parkinson is director of the new MA in Public Policy that starts in the 2011-2012 academic year. He is also module director of Introduction to Politics

Suggested Fields of Inquiry

Dr. Parkinson is enthusiastic in supervising research on issues related to deliberative democracy; referendums; democratic innovations; public participation initiatives; representation, including symbolic representation; public space and the public sphere; policy making processes; centralization and decentralization.He has supervised students on topics including participatory management of forests in Thailand and electricity distribution in India, and agency revision in deliberative democracy. He has taught topics in democratic theory and practice, policy analysis, governance, British politics, political concepts and research methods. 

Overview of Publications

The Deliberative Society

The Deliberative Society is a new project being developed with colleagues in the UK, Australia, the United States and Switzerland. Its overarching aim is to reconnect some of the disparate threads of the deliberative 'turn' in democratic theory and participatory policy making. 

The more specific aim is to map the various sites of democratic deliberation and the linkages between them in a selection of democratic systems -- some national, some transnational. It will use cutting-edge, electronic methods to show where particular systems are strong in sharing information and debate, and where there are important gaps and isolated enclaves.

The project was launched with a major conference in York in June 2009, Democracy and the Deliberative Society, featuring James Bohman, Simone Chambers, John Dryzek, Jane Mansbridge, Mark Warren and many others. 

  • Forthcoming on 2012: A book project on deliberative research called Deliberative Systems based on papers from the 2009 conference, Cambridge University Press. Edited by Jane Mansbridge and Dr. Parkinson with contributions from many of the world's leading deliberative theorists.
  • Forthcoming on 2012: Democracy and Public Space asks whether physical space is needed to make democracy work, and if so, what kinds? It is funded by the British Academy Small Grants Scheme and a book is due out with Oxford University Press in January 2012.

Three other papers from the project have been published: 

  • Parkinson, John. 2009. ‘ Symbolic representation in public space: capital cities, presence and memory’, Representation 45(1): 1-14 
  • Parkinson, John. 2009. ‘Holistic democracy and public space’, in Turmel, P and M. Kingwell (eds.) Rites of Way: the politics and poetics of public space. Waterloo: Wilfrid Laurier University Press.
  • An early version of this paper was given at the 2006 British Journal of Political Science Conference in Political Theory at the British Academy.
  • Parkinson, John 2009. ‘Does democracy require physical public space?’ in Geenens, R. and R. Tinnevelt (eds.), Does Truth Matter? Democracy and public space. Dordrecht: Springer, pp.101-114
  • A 2008 article in The Guardian quotes Dr. Parkinson on the subject of the redesign of Parliament Square in London, available here:

Deliberative democracy and legitimacy

 This body of work looks at issues in the theory and practice of deliberative democracy. The overarching theme is how one creates links between the 'insiders' and 'outsiders' in any deliberative decision making moment, and thus how we share arguments around a democratic society.

The work includes Dr. Parkinson’s book, Deliberating in the Real World, published by Oxford University Press in 2006.

  • 2003. 'Legitimacy problems in deliberative democracy’ Political Studies 51(1): 180-196. 
  • 2004. 'Hearing voices: negotiating representation claims in public deliberation.’ British Journal of Politics and International Relations 6(3): 370-388 
  • 2004. ‘Why deliberate? The encounter between deliberation and new public managers.’ Public Administration 82(2): 377-395 
  • 2006. ‘Rickety bridges: using the media in deliberative democracy’, British Journal of Political Science 36(1): 175 


 Dr. Parkinson has worked on referendums for more than ten years now, and recently served as Specialist Advisor to the House of Lords Constitution Committee's inquiry into referendums in the UK. Their report has recently been published, and is available here.

His early work evaluated referendums against a set of deliberative democratic criteria, and found them seriously wanting. The first results include: 

  • 2001. ‘Who knows best: the creation of citizen-initiated referendums in New Zealand.’ Government and Opposition 32(3): 403-421. 
  • 2001. ‘Deliberative democracy and referendums.’ In K Dowding, J Hughes and H Margetts, eds. Challenges to democracy: ideas, involvement and institutions. London: Palgrave, pp.131-52 

Dr. Parkinson’s views have shifted exploring referendums as a tool in a wider democratic system, and why and how some roles it can perform uniquely well. There an unpublished conference paper exploring this:

  • 2009. 'Beyond technique: the role of referendums in the deliberative system.' Paper presented to the Referendums and Deliberative Democracy workshop at the University of Edinburgh, 8 May 2009.