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Six - Outputs

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  14 April 2023

Nicole Curato
Affiliation:
University of Canberra
David Farrell
Affiliation:
University College Dublin
Brigitte Geissel
Affiliation:
Goethe-Universität Frankfurt Am Main
Kimmo Grönlund
Affiliation:
Åbo Akademi University, Finland
Patricia Mockler
Affiliation:
Queen's University, Ontario
Jean-Benoit Pilet
Affiliation:
Université Libre de Bruxelles
Alan Renwick
Affiliation:
University College London
Jonathan Rose
Affiliation:
Queen's University, Ontario
Maija Setälä
Affiliation:
University of Turku, Finland
Jane Suiter
Affiliation:
Dublin City University
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Summary

Introduction

DMPs are not simply forums for discussion; they are also designed to reach conclusions. In a few cases, as explored in Chapter Seven, these conclusions are treated as binding upon subsequent decision-makers. In most cases, they are instead intended to inform downstream decision-makers, whether elected politicians, officials or referendum voters. The outputs of a DMP – which are the focus of this chapter – thus comprise two key components: first, the conclusions of the mini-public in themselves; and, second, the manner in which those conclusions are presented to wider audiences. The chapter examines the nature of those outputs, how they are developed and what meaning can be attached to them. The first section describes the two types of outputs in further detail, exploring the different forms they take in different minipublics. The second section then explores how these outputs are determined, that is, how deliberation is converted into conclusions, and the degree to which DMP participants are involved in presentation. Finally, the third section goes into the deeper question of what meaning we can ascribe to outputs, focusing on three key questions that people encountering the idea of DMPs often ask.

The nature of outputs

As just explained, the outputs of DMPs comprise two elements: the content of the conclusions reached by participants; and the ways in which those conclusions are presented.

Mini-public conclusions

Taking the conclusions first, DMPs yield what James Fishkin (1995: 162) – one of the most long-standing advocates of such methods – describes as ‘a representation of the considered judgments of the public’ on specific issues. A DMP thus yields very different information from either a standard opinion poll or a conventional public consultation. A typical poll elicits what people think now. These views may be based on limited information about, or reflection on, the issues in question. Indeed, polls often ask about matters that respondents have never much thought about, and answers can thus be volatile and susceptible to slight changes in question wording or context. By contrast, a DMP allows participants to learn about the issues, discuss them with others and reflect in depth. Participants’ views are thus likely to be much more considered and more stable. Furthermore, most people would say that these are views that should matter: the collective decisions that we take in a democracy matter for us all, and we should care that they are well grounded.

Type
Chapter
Information
Deliberative Mini-Publics
Core Design Features
, pp. 86 - 104
Publisher: Bristol University Press
Print publication year: 2021

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