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Difference as a Resource? An Experimental Study on the Effect of Social Group Salience on Expectations of Citizen Deliberation

Democracy
Identity
Experimental Design
Zohreh Khoban
University of Örebro
Zohreh Khoban
University of Örebro

Abstract

Deliberative democratic theory accommodates both difference and unity. However, theorists disagree on whether particular interests and groupthink should be put aside or actively used in the deliberative process. In this paper I explore this issue by asking how social group salience affects citizens attitudes to deliberation. More precisely, I study how information about the inclusion of different social groups, and self-identification with such groups, affects citizens' expectations of deliberating in a mini-public. Preliminary findings based on a pilot survey show that social group salience lowers expectations of being understood, but raises expectations of facing different important perspectives during the deliberation. This result indicates that social groups salience activates a trade-off between expectations of getting along with others and expectations of making new discoveries together with others — qualities that are both important for citizens' journey from raw to filtered opinions.