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Variations of Institutional Design for Empowered Deliberation

Written by Carolina Johnson and John Gastil, Variations of Institutional Design for Empowered Deliberation (2015) was published in Journal of Public Deliberation: Vol. 11: Iss. 1. The study explores the characteristics of empowered deliberation as a distinct variation of deliberative processes, then some case study examples of empowered deliberation from around the world.

From the Abstract

This paper lays out the practical and theoretical characteristics of formally empowered deliberation as a distinctive subset of deliberative processes. As part of a recent broad shift toward a more deliberative conception of democratic politics, participatory deliberative processes increasingly have been formally empowered as part of democratic governance. Governments have moved to delegate authority and deliberative responsibility from elite bodies to lay publics more quickly than scholars have been able to fully identify the implications of this institutionalization for the quality of both deliberation and democracy. This paper describes the emerging characteristics of formally empowered deliberation as a distinctive subset of deliberative processes, in which deliberation between members of the general public is given credible formal authority over policy development and decision making. We first develop a clearer conceptualization of empowered deliberation within the general trend toward participatory governance. We also review critical and supportive perspectives on empowered deliberation, making explicit tradeoffs inherent in the decision to develop an empowered deliberative process. Next, we identify four key dimensions of variation in the design of empowered deliberative institutions, in particular embeddedness in the social/ political context and the scope of authority of the deliberative decision. To illustrate these dimensions, we discuss key cases from around the world, noting which forms of empowered deliberation have seen less common innovation and documentation. Finally, we briefly consider how specific processes may become empowered or transform over time, as they transition from experimental or one-off pilot projects to recurring and institutionalized aspects of democratic governance.

Download the case study from the Journal of Public Deliberation here.

About the Journal of Public DeliberationJournal of Public Deliberation
Spearheaded by the Deliberative Democracy Consortium in collaboration with the International Association of Public Participation, the principal objective of Journal of Public Deliberation (JPD) is to synthesize the research, opinion, projects, experiments and experiences of academics and practitioners in the emerging multi-disciplinary field and political movement called by some “deliberative democracy.” By doing this, we hope to help improve future research endeavors in this field and aid in the transformation of modern representative democracy into a more citizen friendly form.

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Follow the International Association of Public Participation [US] on Twitter: @IAP2USA

Resource Link: www.publicdeliberation.net/jpd/vol11/iss1/art2/

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