Deliberative Democracy

A model of democracy in which citizens “deliberate” in order to come to policy decisions by means of reason, mutual understanding, and respect. There is a growing academic literature that questions whether this is possible in communities with a population beyond a certain threshold (10,000? 100,000?). The argument is that above some threshold, interest-group dynamics overwhelm deliberative engagement because citizens cannot be adequately informed whereas special interests will always be informed regarding their interests. Some get around this limitation with the idea of representative citizen “deliberators” who together consider information and come to conclusions that are shared with decision-makers and the public, e.g. citizen cabinets advocated by Voice of the People, www.vop.org, and consensus councils (North Dakota legislature utilized such a council for several years.) *lay of the land?

Conversation Catalysts: 

Mark Pennington and Ilya Somin

Contributors: 

Michael Strong, Mary Jacksteit

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