An Ethnographic Analysis of a “Digital Pouvoir Constituant”: Proposal for a Qualitative Research Framework

Whereas previously elites and experts controlled constitution-making, recent processes, such as in Iceland and Chile, suggest that digital tools have the capacity to bring “the people” back into the equation. Scholarship in this field has largely remained normative in its outlook. While there is a growing body of quantitative research in constitution-making, detailed qualitative analysis of the practical implementation of such processes is still missing.
This paper puts forward an ethnographic framework for tech-driven constitutional reform. Such an approach focuses on who makes use of digital tools, as well as why and how; their place in the overall process vis-à-vis traditional law-making institutions; and how the will of a “digital pouvoir constituant” becomes embedded in a new constitutional framework (or not). Such an analysis will allow for new insights into the democratising potential and limitations of an emerging “digital pouvoir constituant”.