Democratising Economic Institutions

Decisions taken by economic institutions affect our lives; they can and should be democratised.


To foster a genuinely democratic society, we need to ensure people have power not just in their government institutions, but also more broadly - in their workplaces, banks, trade unions, associations, and other institutions that make up our everyday lives.

Economic institutions, such as banks, trade unions, corporations, firms, and NGOs have an immense impact on our lives. Most of them have replicated familiar models of governance and decision-making that are not genuinely democratic. Even the most egalitarian cooperatives or community-led initiatives with a stated desire to democratise their governance, tend to approach the idea of democratisation through elections, fair votes, and transparency about decisions.

Moreover, even if organisations and institutions would like to implement sortition-based democratic governance models, where citizens, employees or even clients, partners, or beneficiaries selected by lottery could participate in decision-making, they are legally limited by legislation that imposes a non-democratic governance structure.

How can we bring the principles of citizen participation, representation, and deliberation into the governance of economic institutions? Their decisions affect our lives; they can and should be democratised.

This work fits into the broader aims of DemocracyNext to create a more just, joyful, and collaborative future where everyone has meaningful power to shape their societies, which extends beyond democratising public governance and into developing a big picture vision for an entirely new democratic future.


DemocracyNext is collaborating with Democratizing Work and Demos Helsinki on a series of workshops and proposition papers on Democratising the Governance of Economic Institutions.

The cross-cutting focus is on how the principles of participation, representation by lottery, and deliberation can be incorporated into the governance of various economic institutions. This work is divided into three related pillars:

  1. Work (e.g. firms/NGOs/co-ops, trade unions)
  2. Investment (e.g. public and development banks)
  3. Money (e.g. central banks)

For each pillar, we are convening a Task Force - a multidisciplinary group of practitioners, academics, and government officials - to think together with us.


The ultimate aim is for these ideas to inspire and encourage actors working in economic institutions to make them a reality.

Partner contacts:

Isabelle Ferreras, Democratizing Work
Juha Leppanen, Demos Helsinki
Atte Ojanen, Demos Helsinki

If you are interested in working with us on these ideas, or in implementing a project that would put them in practice, please don’t hesitate to contact us.

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