What is deliberation?
The word "deliberation" means to consider an issue
carefully, usually to make a decision or statement about it. At
its best, "deliberation" means that a full range of
relevant facts, factors, perspectives, options and consequences
are being considered in a way that generates new understandings
Deliberation assumes a certain quality of conversation that
supports people learning or reasonably shifting their perspectives
as they proceed. Public deliberation implies, in addition, a certain
amount of shared concern for the common good and usually a growing
appreciation for the complexity of the situation, as people learn
more about it and take more into account.
"Citizen deliberation," as the phrase is used in
this site, means that people holding diverse perspectives are
talking together respectfully about public concerns. All the participants'
views are being heard in ways that add up to greater understanding
than any of them had when they began the conversation. Usually
there's a significant amount of face-to-face dialogue, although
it is sometimes electronically augmented in some way. The term
citizen deliberation suggests that the citizens involved will
generate a statement or decision or activity that will benefit
the larger community in some way.
The Varieties of Citizen Deliberation
Many forms of citizen deliberation are in use today. For example,
- Citizen deliberative councils convene
temporary groups of usually 10-50 randomly selected ordinary
citizens to consider public concerns and report back to the community
(or country) and/or to public officials.
- Study circles bring together
small groups of people to discuss briefing materials -- often
used throughout a community to deal with a community issue, and
then participants are convened at the end to form action groups
- National Issues Forum
organizes topical deliberative conversations through civic organizations
around the U.S. and then shares the results with public officials.
- America Speaks
convenes hundreds or thousands of people using high-tech connections
to integrate and prioritize their diverse perspectives.
roundtables bring together diverse stakeholders to creatively
address controversial land use and other issues.
- In deliberative
polling, citizens are surveyed before and after they deliberate,
to see how the deliberations have changed their opinions.
- Future search conferences
convene representative stakeholders from all parts of a community
to look at their shared history, the forces currently shaping
their shared lives, and visions they can all agree on and work
- Holistic Management weaves
all the important people and resources relating to an issue together
into the pursuit of a shared goal which covers all the relevant
dimensions of the issue.
- Our Media
Voice Citizen Feedback Forums bring citizens together in
live broadcasts to discuss how broadcast media serve their community.
National Coalition for Dialogue
Civic Practices Network
Principles of Public
Participation - Lists of guidelines from The International
Association for Public Participation, The Community Development
Society and the Co-Intelligence Institute.
on deliberative democracy
An overview of the emerging
deliberative democracy movement
John Gastil - Is
Face-to-Face Citizen Deliberation a Luxury or a Necessity for
Carmen Sirianni and Lewis Friedland - Deliberative
Tali Mendleberg - The
Deliberative Citizen: Theory and Evidence
Carolyn Hendriks - Deliberative
Citizens' Forums and Interest Groups: Roles, Tensions and Incentives
Maria B. Pellerano and Peter Montague - Democracy
and the Precautionary Principle
OECD - Engaging
Citizens in Policy-making
Archon Fung and Erik Olin Wright - Experiments
in Empowered Deliberative Democracy -
Richard E. Sclove - Town
Meetings on Technology and Democratic
Politics of Technology
Michel Pimbert and Tom Wakeford - Deliberative
Democracy and Citizen Empowerment
Tim Holmes and Ian Scoones - Participatory
Environmental Policy Processes: Experiences from North and South
Lyn Carson and Katharine Gelber - Ideas
for Community Consultation
Alliance for Regional Stewardship - Empowering
Regions: Strategies and Tools for Community Decision Making"