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Deliberative Designs: Micro and Macro

Democracy
Normative Theory
Public Opinion
James Fishkin
Stanford University
James Fishkin
Stanford University
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Abstract

Deliberative microcosms can be credibly designed to answer the hypothetical normative claim: what would the people think about an issue under good conditions for considering it? But there is a gap between this hypothetical inference and what the people ordinarily do think. How can deliberative systems be designed to nurture the representative and deliberative input of a microcosm and still give due weight to the participation of other actors who may not have deliberated, or may not be incentivized to do so? These other actors will include most members of the mass public (who may not even be paying attention) and most elected representatives (who will be focused more on electoral incentives for their parties). What are the strategic entry points within democratic systems for the deliberating microcosm? This paper looks at various ideal scenarios which can connect the deliberating microcosm to other decision processes (legislatures, referenda, commissions). It looks at the sequencing issue (do the microcosms come before, during or after other processes?) And finally it looks at strategies for scaling the effect or the experience of the deliberative microcosm to the broader public. Can social media make “deliberation day” practical on a mass scale? What would be gained? What would be lost? The paper will draw on applications of Deliberative Polling in various countries. It will use those examples to stimulate a dialogue about democratic design for policy impact and constitutional change.