Network forms of governance enable public managers to exercise considerable agency in shaping the institutions through which government interacts with citizens, civil society organizations and business. These network institutions configure democratic legitimacy and accountability in various ways, but little is known about how managers-as-designers think about democracy. This Q methodology study identifies five democratic subjectivities. Pragmatists have little concern for democracy. Realists regard networks as one of a number of arenas in which the politics is played out. Adaptors identify the potential for greater inclusiveness. Progressive Optimists think that network governance will fill the gap between the theory and practice of representative democracy, while Radical Optimists focus on its potential for enabling direct dialogue. Institutional design alone is not sufficient to enhance the democratic possibilities of governance networks. The choice of public manager is also salient. Adaptors or, preferably, Progressive or Radical Optimists should be selected for this role.