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Preface

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

The purpose of this book is to set out core standards that we, as academics specializing in the field of deliberative democracy, consider to be essential components for an event to be categorized as a ‘deliberative mini-public’ (DMP). As we witness the widespread application of deliberative forums around the world, we find it important to take stock of what it is that makes their design distinct from other procedures of citizen engagement and public participation.

The genesis of this project was a roundtable discussion in the Gold Room of the Royal Irish Academy in Dublin on 10 May 2019. The meeting was hosted by David M. Farrell and Jane Suiter. The other participants were Nicole Curato, Brigitte Geissel, Kimmo Grönlund, Sofie Marien, Jean-Benoit Pilet, Alan Renwick, Jonathan Rose and Maija Setälä.

Among the issues identified in the May 2019 discussion is a tendency to apply the term ‘deliberative mini-public’ loosely to refer to a range of practices of public engagement. This is a cause for concern, for a DMP is a specific process committed to the virtues of deliberative democracy. As we set out later, deliberative democracy should not be equated with DMPs; indeed, the practice of DMPs preceded the emergence of deliberative democracy as a theoretical discourse. Nevertheless, the growing prominence of DMPs requires closer scrutiny by academic scholars. Beyond serving as an academic exercise, conceptual precision in defining DMPs is important in building a shared vocabulary among scholars, practitioners and policymakers that recognizes good practice consistent with normative principles of deliberation.

The group agreed to co-author a brief document with the aim of distinguishing DMPs from other citizen-centric forms of engagement. David M. Farrell and Nicole Curato took the lead in drafting this document, with input from other colleagues, and it was published as a working paper by the Centre for Deliberative Democracy and Global Governance at the University of Canberra (Farrell et al, 2019b). On foot of that experience, it was decided to produce a book-length treatment of the topic (albeit with a slightly amended list of authors).

Our intention here is not to suggest that DMPs are superior forms of activities. DMPs are not a magic bullet and they are not the only ways to engage citizens. Other methods include public inquiries, town hall meetings, online consultations and informal discussions – all of which have their place in a modern, innovating democracy.

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

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