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Exploring the Shifting Contours of Communication


Edited By Patricia Moy and Donald Matheson

This edited volume on voices arose from the 2018 International Communication Association conference in Prague, Czech Republic. The contributions examine the conference’s central theme from multiple epistemological approaches, a host of methodologies, and numerous levels of analysis. They reveal how studying voice—or the plurality of voices—illuminates the process by which it is fostered and/or constrained as well as the conditions under which it is expressed and/or stifled. More important, the study of voice sheds light on the process by which it impacts behaviors, defines relationships, influences policies, and shapes the world in which we live. In other words, studies of voice are not relegated to a few domains, but interface with myriad discourses, actors, processes, and outcomes.

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9. Testing the Normative Assumptions of Deliberative Discussion (Katherine R. Knobloch)


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9. Testing the Normative Assumptions of Deliberative Discussion


Since the 1990s, deliberation has proliferated both as a practice and a field of scholarship (see Gastil and Levine 2005; Nabatchi et al. 2012) but fundamental questions remain about how deliberation operates in practice. Though empirical scholarship continues to test the quality or impact of deliberation, many of the underlying theories about how deliberation functions remain untested, in part because comparing deliberation across events and contexts poses methodological difficulties.

Even so, a central definition of deliberation has begun to undergird both the theoretical and empirical literature. Deliberation requires its participants to engage in an inclusive and respectful conversation that allows individuals to undertake a rigorous analysis of evidence and weigh competing values and options (Benhabib 1996; Burkhalter, Gastil, and Kelshaw 2002; Gouran and Hirokawa 1996; Gutmann and Thompson 1996; Mansbridge 1980). The goals of deliberation, however, extend beyond realizing ideal talk. Advocates of deliberation also argue that it can increase individuals’ knowledge and engagement and produce better opinions (Burkhalter et al. 2002; Chambers 2003; Fung 2003; Goodin and Dryzek 2006; Niemeyer and Dryzek 2007).

Although scholars have largely agreed on what deliberation should look like and produce, little work has assessed whether the two sides of deliberation, process quality and outcomes, are compatible. This study tests this simple premise through a long-term study of an ongoing deliberative event, the Citizens’ Initiative Review (CIR). Since...

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