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Explaining Political Efficacy in Deliberative Procedures – A Novel Methodological Approach

The 27-page article, Explaining Political Efficacy in Deliberative Procedures – A Novel Methodological Approach (2017), was written by Brigitte Geissel and Pamela Hess, and published in the Journal of Public Deliberation: Vol. 13: Iss. 2. From the abstract, “This article…identifies factors which lead to increased group-related political efficacy in deliberative procedures applying an almost novel method, i.e. a quantitative meta-synthesis combining and aggregating data from case studies”. Read an excerpt from the article below and find the PDF available for download on the Journal of Public Deliberation site here.

From the introduction…

Effects on political efficacy, i.e. citizens’ perceptions that they have an influence on public issues, are of great interest in research on deliberative procedures (e.g. Delli Carpini, Cook & Jacobs, 2004; Fishkin & Luskin, 1999; Rosenberg, 2007). As a crucial predictor of political participation, efficacy is pivotal for striving democracies and thus a significant concept in respective theories (Conway, 2000; Pateman, 1970).

Theorists have claimed for a long time that participation in deliberative procedures would improve citizens’ political efficacy. Empirically, the results are mixed. Recent works have shown that deliberative procedures can affect political efficacy positively, negatively or not at all. Some studies detected an increase of political efficacy in deliberative procedures (Fishkin, 1995; Grönlund, Setälä, & Herne, 2010; Nabatchi, 2007), but Morrell (2005) and others noticed little or no impacts (e.g. Gastil, 1999; Morrell, 1998; Stromer-Galley & Muhlberger, 2009; Walsh, 2003). A few scholars even noticed decreased efficacy when people are confronted with disagreement (e.g. Mutz, 2008). Obviously, impacts of deliberative procedures on efficacy depend on specific factors.

Accordingly, scholars of deliberation have stressed the need to examine which factors influence the improvement of political efficacy (e.g. Geissel, 2009; Mutz, 2008; Thompson, 2008). Up to now research mainly focused on deliberative experiments or single events (Fishkin, 1995; Fung, 2004; Fung & Wright, 2003; Gastil et al., 2010; Grönlund, Setälä, & Herne, 2010; Gutmann & Thompson, 1996; Knobloch & Gastil, 2015; Nabatchi, 2007; Smith, 2009). Hardly any large-n studies have been conducted on variables influencing efficacy in real-life deliberative procedures, and generalizable results are missing altogether. This article will fill this gap and answer the following question: Under which conditions do real-life deliberative procedures enhance political efficacy?

Methodologically, we address the lack of (generalizable) findings by applying a rather novel method – the accumulation of “the intellectual gold of case study research” (Jensen & Rodgers, 2001, p. 235; see also Smith et al., 2015). Recently scholars have tried to summarize case study findings in narrative synopses (e.g. Delli Carpini, Cook, & Jacobs, 2004, p. 200; Goodin & Dryzek, 2006). In contrast, we intend to generate a quantitative large-n synopsis allowing for statistical calculation. By aggregating and integrating a large number of case study findings, we aim to test hypotheses and identify generalizable results (Borroso et al., 2003, p. 154).

Download the full article 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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Resource Link: www.publicdeliberation.net/jpd/vol13/iss2/art4/

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