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Deliberative Abilities and Influence in a Transnational Deliberative Poll (EuroPolis)

  • Marlène Gerber, André Bächtiger, Susumu Shikano, Simon Reber and Samuel Rohr...

This article investigates the deliberative abilities of ordinary citizens in the context of ‘EuroPolis’, a transnational deliberative poll. Drawing upon a philosophically grounded instrument, an updated version of the Discourse Quality Index (DQI), it explores how capable European citizens are of meeting deliberative ideals; whether socio-economic, cultural and psychological biases affect the ability to deliberate; and whether opinion change results from the exchange of arguments. On the positive side, EuroPolis shows that the ideal deliberator scoring high on all deliberative standards does actually exist, and that participants change their opinions more often when rational justification is used in the discussions. On the negative side, deliberative abilities are unequally distributed: in particular, working-class members are less likely to contribute to a high standard of deliberation.

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Institute of Political Science, University of Bern; Institute of Social Sciences, University of Stuttgart; Department of Politics and Public Administration, University of Konstanz; Institute of Political Science, University of Bern; The Graduate Institute, University of Geneva (emails:;;;; The authors would like to thank participants in the panel ‘Deliberation and Democratic Legitimacy’ at the MPSA Conference 2011, participants at the workshop ‘Frontiers of Deliberation’ at the ECPR Joint Sessions of Workshops in St. Gallen 2011 and the panel ‘Committees and Rational Decision-Making’ at the ECPR General Conference in Reykjavik 2011, participants at seminars at the University of Frankfurt and Oldenburg (2012), three anonymous reviewers, and the editors Bob Goodin and Hugh Ward for excellent comments and suggestions on previous versions of this article. The authors are particularly grateful to John Dryzek and Jane Mansbridge for their extremely valuable feedback, their encouragement and their support, and also wish to thank David Sanders for helping us replicate his findings on opinion change in EuroPolis. Finally, they would also like to thank Karolina Kojder for her careful work in transcribing and translating the Polish group discussions. This project was funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation (‘Potential for Deliberation among EU Citizens’, no. 100012_126483). André Bächtiger and Susumu Shikano also thank the Hanse Wissenschaftskolleg (Delmenhorst, Germany) for its support during this project. Data replication sets are available at Online appendices are available at 10.1017/S0007123416000144.

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