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Inclusion, Equality, and Discourse Quality in Citizen Deliberations on Broadband

The 24-page case study, Inclusion, Equality, and Discourse Quality in Citizen Deliberations on Broadband (2015) published by  Soo-Hye Han, William Schenck-Hamlin, and Donna Schenck-Hamlin in the Journal of Public Deliberation: Vol. 11: Iss. 1. The study is based on a program of Kansas library forums on broadband telecommunications policy. It explores the theories versus realities of public deliberation, in regards, to participant inclusion, equality and the quality of discourse.

From the Abstract

Proponents of deliberative democracy have theorized that in order to contribute to improved decision-making, citizens should aim for high levels of inclusion, participation equality, and reciprocal, rational reasoning when they convene to discuss policy issues. To measure the extent to which these goals are achieved in actual practice, the authors analyzed transcripts from 13 public forums on the topic of broadband access in rural communities. Demographic attributes of participants were compared with their utterances during deliberation, coded by five quality variables: justification rationality, common good orientation, constructive politics, interactivity, and consideration of trade-offs. Analysis showed that turnout, quantity and quality of discourse varied significantly across different socioeconomic groups. For example, individuals with college education were more likely to provide higher levels of justification, alternative and mediating proposals, and consideration of the common good compared to those without college education. Non-salaried participants expressed the lowest level of justification for their arguments and showed significantly less interactivity with other participants. Addressing these differences requires greater effort by forum organizers to prepare participants through repeated, sequential forum experiences.

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.

Follow the Deliberative Democracy Consortium on Twitter: @delibdem

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

Resource Link: www.publicdeliberation.net/jpd/vol11/iss1/art3/

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