Democracy and governance

The British Academy explores contemporary policy issues relating to the way the UK is governed and how citizens participate in decision-making. By bringing to bear the research and insights from the humanities and social sciences onto the debates over the future of democracy, we hope to inform policy and practice that seeks to address the major challenges facing democracy and governance today and in the future.
Programme status

The immediate response to the Covid-19 pandemic has led democratic governments to unprecedented steps to protect lives. This crisis compounds debates around how society responds to the climate crisis, rising populism, Brexit, rising inequality, and globalisation among other complex challenges.

Over the past decade, the British Academy has published reports and books on electoral systems, changing politics and the impact of the Scottish independence referendum. In 2016, the Academy’s Governing England programme took an initial look into questions around England’s governance, institutions and identity, considering how it is affected by constitutional change in the light of the developing devolution settlements.

Following this initial work on electoral and constitutional issues, going forward, the Academy is establishing a major new programme that takes a systems view of democracy and governance in the UK and beyond. The Future of Democracy programme will bring the insights of all the humanities and social sciences to respond to the challenges facing democracy, stimulating debate and shaping practice. Through novel research, convening academics, citizens and practitioners, and working closely with the whole community of actors in this space, it will contribute to reorienting policy debates, informing policy change, identifying new democratic processes, and cultivating major public discussion on democracy.

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