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The challenge of deliberative democracy online – A comparison of face-to-face and virtual experiments in citizen deliberation

The challenge of deliberative democracy online – A comparison of face-to-face and virtual... Two contemporary promises of participatory democracy are addressed in the present article; (a) democratic decisions reached in small group deliberation between lay citizens and (b) the possibility to exploit information and communication technology in democratic dialogue and decision making. Initially, a quasi-experimental approach was used to explore the potential and impact of face-to-face deliberation between citizens. In this design, a random sample of adult citizens was first surveyed and invited to take part in the experiment. The original face-to-face experiment was a one-day event where the participants received impartial information, questioned an expert panel and discussed in small groups. The participants were randomly allocated to 12 small groups consisting of a dozen persons each. The question at hand was whether a sixth nuclear power plant should be constructed in Finland. Later on, the face-to-face experiment was replicated virtually. The article has two main research questions. First, it investigates how a virtual environment can be used for deliberation and decision making. Second, it examines how information and deliberation in small groups affect participants' knowledge and opinions on energy politics. It is found that both modes show considerable resemblance in their outcome. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Information Polity IOS Press

The challenge of deliberative democracy online – A comparison of face-to-face and virtual experiments in citizen deliberation

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Publisher
IOS Press
Copyright
Copyright © 2009 by IOS Press, Inc
ISSN
1570-1255
eISSN
1875-8754
DOI
10.3233/IP-2009-0182
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

Two contemporary promises of participatory democracy are addressed in the present article; (a) democratic decisions reached in small group deliberation between lay citizens and (b) the possibility to exploit information and communication technology in democratic dialogue and decision making. Initially, a quasi-experimental approach was used to explore the potential and impact of face-to-face deliberation between citizens. In this design, a random sample of adult citizens was first surveyed and invited to take part in the experiment. The original face-to-face experiment was a one-day event where the participants received impartial information, questioned an expert panel and discussed in small groups. The participants were randomly allocated to 12 small groups consisting of a dozen persons each. The question at hand was whether a sixth nuclear power plant should be constructed in Finland. Later on, the face-to-face experiment was replicated virtually. The article has two main research questions. First, it investigates how a virtual environment can be used for deliberation and decision making. Second, it examines how information and deliberation in small groups affect participants' knowledge and opinions on energy politics. It is found that both modes show considerable resemblance in their outcome.

Journal

Information PolityIOS Press

Published: Jan 1, 2009

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