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Deliberation and Democracy: Innovative Processes and Institutions

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Edited By Stephen Coleman, Anna Przybylska and Yves Sintomer

As our experience regarding the practice of deliberation grows, the position from which we evaluate it, and the criteria of this evaluation, change. This book presents a synthesis of recent research that has brought detailed and robust results. Its first section concerns contemporary challenges and new approaches to the public sphere. The second focuses on the Deliberative Poll as a specific deliberative technique and compares findings emanating from this practice in various political and cultural contexts. The third section addresses the challenge of determining what constitutes deliberative quality. Finally, the last section discusses democratic deliberation and deliberative democracy as they relate to the complex challenges of contemporary politics.
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Stephen Coleman & Giles Moss - Chapter Thirteen. Under Construction: The Field of Online Deliberation Research

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Stephen Coleman & Giles Moss

Chapter Thirteen. Under Construction: The Field of Online Deliberation Research1

Introduction

How might we describe the development of online deliberation as a field of research and practice? How should we interpret its significance? In this chapter, we argue that deliberative citizenship is best thought of as a construction, rather than something naturally occurring and given, and that the modest field of online deliberation has contributed to its contemporary enactment. Researchers and practitioners of online deliberation tend to deny their hand in constituting deliberative citizenship, since they continue to assume, if only implicitly, that the deliberative citizen is a natural and universal phenomenon, not a constructed one. We argue instead that the deliberative citizen is a construction all the way down, a contingent product of a particular set of discourses and practices, and that online deliberation research plays an important role in enacting as well as studying deliberative citizenship (Cruikshank 1999; Law and Urry 2004; Osborne and Rose 1999; Olson 2008).

In arguing that the deliberative citizen is constructed, and that the field of online deliberation is implicated in its construction, we do not want to suggest that these efforts are not desirable and should be discouraged. We do, however, want to underscore the contingent and ‘effectively contestable’ (Freeden 2004) nature of any particular form of citizenship and to invite serious reflection, in the absence of any metaphysical certainties, on the political and normative consequences...

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