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Who Wants To Deliberate—And Why?

  • MICHAEL A. NEBLO (a1), KEVIN M. ESTERLING (a2), RYAN P. KENNEDY (a3), DAVID M.J. LAZER (a4) and ANAND E. SOKHEY (a5)...
Abstract

Interest in deliberative theories of democracy has grown tremendously among political theorists, political scientists, activists, and even government officials. Many scholars, however, are skeptical that it is a practically viable theory, even on its own terms. They argue (inter alia) that most people dislike politics and that deliberative initiatives would amount to a paternalistic imposition. Using two large national samples investigating people's hypothetical willingness to deliberate and their actual participation in response to a real invitation to deliberate with their member of Congress, we find that (1) willingness to deliberate in the United States is much more widespread than expected, and (2) it is precisely those people less likely to participate in traditional partisan politics who are most interested in deliberative participation. They are attracted to such participation as a partial alternative to “politics as usual.”

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Corresponding author
Michael A. Neblo is Assistant Professor of Political Science, Ohio State University, 154 N. Oval Mall, Columbus, OH 43215 (neblo.1@osu.edu).
Kevin M. Esterling is Associate Professor of Political Science, University of California at Riverside, 900 University Avenue, Riverside, CA 92521 (kevin.esterling@ucr.edu).
Ryan P. Kennedy is Assistant Professor of Political Science, University of Houston, 447 Philip G. Hoffman Hall, Houston, TX 77204-3011 (rkennedy@uh.edu).
David M. J. Lazer is Associate Professor of Political Science and Computer & Information Science, Northeastern University, 301 Meserve Hall, Boston, MA 02115, as well as Visiting Scholar, Harvard Kennedy School, Harvard University, Cambridge MA 02138 (d.lazer@neu.edu).
Anand E. Sokhey is Assistant Professor of Political Science, University of Colorado, Ketchum 106, 333 UCB, Boulder, CO 80309 (anand.sokhey@colorado.edu).
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Michael X. Delli Carpini , and Scott Keeter . 1996. What Americans Know about Politics and Why It Matters. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.

Kevin M. Esterling , Michael A. Neblo , and David M. J. Lazer . n.d. “Means, Motive, and Opportunity in Becoming Informed about Politics: A Deliberative Field Experiment.” Program on Networked Governance (PNG) Working Paper No. PNG07-006. http://polisci.osu.edu/faculty/mneblo/papers/NSFpolknow.pdf (accessed July 26, 2010).

Kevin M. Esterling , Michael A. Neblo , and David M.J. Lazer . n.d. “Estimating Treatment Effects in the Presence of Selection on Unobservables: The Generalized Endogenous Treatment Model.” http://polisci.osu.edu/faculty/mneblo/papers.htm (accessed July 26, 2010).

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Michael A. Neblo 2005. “Thinking through Democracy: Between the Theory and Practice of Deliberative Politics.” Acta Politica 40 (2): 169–81.

Michael A. Neblo 2007. “Family Disputes: Diversity in Defining and Measuring Deliberation.” Swiss Political Science Review 13 (4): 527–57.

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American Political Science Review
  • ISSN: 0003-0554
  • EISSN: 1537-5943
  • URL: /core/journals/american-political-science-review
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