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Who Wants to Deliberate? – Important Article for our Field

NCDD member Tiago Peixoto (European University Institute) sent this to the main NCDD listserv this morning…

A new article was just published as part of the Harvard Kennedy School’s Faculty Research Working Paper Series titled Who Wants to Deliberate – and Why? (co-authored by Michael Neblo, Kevin Esterling, Ryan Kennedy, David Lazer, and Anand Sokhey).

The abstract is compelling, to say the least:

Interest in deliberative theories of democracy has grown tremendously among political theorists over the last twenty years. Many scholars in political behavior, however, are skeptical that it is a practically viable theory, even on its own terms. They argue (inter alia) that most people dislike politics, and that deliberative initiatives would amount to a paternalistic imposition. Using two large, representative samples investigating people’s hypothetical willingness to deliberate and their actual behavior in response to a real invitation to deliberate with their member of Congress, we find: 1) that willingness to deliberate in the U.S. is much more widespread than expected; and 2) that it is precisely people who are less likely to participate in traditional partisan politics who are most interested in deliberative participation.

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Sandy Heierbacher
Sandy Heierbacher co-founded the National Coalition for Dialogue & Deliberation (NCDD) with Andy Fluke in 2002, with the 60 volunteers and 50 organizations who worked together to plan NCDD’s first national conference. She served as NCDD's Executive Director between 2002 and 2018. Click here for a list of articles and resources authored by Sandy.

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  1. Ron Lubensky made a comment about this article on my facebook page (where all NCDD blog posts appear automatically):

    The article counters the Stealth Democracy thesis that people can't be bothered to participate. The article shows that people would if given the opportunity. It's largely how you approach people, including in a survey. We demonstrated that with our Australian Citizens' Parliament, which attracted both conservatives and progressives. Now let's get out there and promote the deliberative enterprise!

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