Sustaining Public Engagement: Embedded Deliberation in Local Communities
Here is an excerpt from the report:"We attempt to understand why deliberation in our study communities has successfully spread over time by developing the concept of embedded deliberation. We explain the characteristics of embeddedness and why it is helpful to understand embeddedness on two levels: some practices embed deliberative reflection while others also embed deliberative public action. The first establishes habits of ongoing deliberation to improve community relations, clarifies the understanding of public policy problems, or provides input to policymakers, while the second translates deliberation into action by mobilizing communities and resources to solve local problems. The first level of embeddedness is a necessary condition for the second. All of the communities that have embedded public action have also developed habits of public reflection. Some communities do not move from reflection to action because the problems they attempt to solve, from limited social trust to the need for public input, require individual transformation or ad hoc involvement, not a sustained mobilization of citizens. Drawing upon work with researcher Joseph Goldman, we suggest that three factors in communities favor embedded deliberation: Political authority Elected officials must support public deliberation and be willing to consider its results and even share authority with bodies of deliberating citizens. Deliberative capacity Public or, more often, civic organizations in the community must develop the resources and expertise to convene structured deliberations and to mobilize people to participate in those deliberations. Demand for democracy Though rarely evident in our study communities, embeddedness requires a popular constituency that presses for public deliberation when such engagement becomes uncomfortable or inconvenient for local elites and authorities. We then offer some tentative thoughts about benchmarks and measures of deliberative embeddedness and the kinds of civic leadership and strategies that are likely to sustain local deliberative practices." -- Download the report (for free) from www.everyday-democracy.org/en/Resource.136.aspx.