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Noise and complexity: A proposal on how to harness for an inclusive democracy.

Open Panel

Abstract

In this paper we present initial findings from a democratic innovation experiment within a County Council in Ireland. This experiment aims to test the effects of Web 2.0 enabled citizen participation on inclusive representation as it is observed in both procedures and policy output. The experiment is rooted in the theoretical propositions of Iris Young on inclusive democracy and John Dryden on deliberative democracy. The experiment involves activating an information based citizen socio-political network that is integrated to the County Council decision processes. Outputs of citizen deliberations are integrated by the use new technology on data aggregation and sentiment mining, developed by the team, to support the creation of an ontology and map of citizen deliberation that can be easily consulted and understood by both citizens and Councillors. We hypothesise that use of the integrated socio-political network by citizens and elected members can result in: 1. higher rates and broader reach of citizen participation; 2. greater citizen satisfaction with the local authority system and; 3. demonstrable citizen influence on policy outputs. This argument rests on the claim that social networking combined with content and sentiment analysis, can facilitate greater citizen communication with political parties and representatives, support the development of social knowledge among citizens and enable a transparent and accountable feedback process that enhances citizen trust and engagement. In this paper we explain the innovative concept and methods; outline its contribution to new developments in the literature on deliberative democracy and political communication; and present our initial findings.