Skip to main content
×
Home
    • Aa
    • Aa

Designing for democracy?: an experimental study comparing the outcomes of citizen discussions in online forums with those of online discussions in a forum designed according to deliberative principles

  • Kim Strandberg (a1)
Abstract

Democratic theorists often envision public deliberation as being essential to the working of democracy. Several scholars have also highlighted a potential for realising such deliberations on the internet. Consequentially, an emerging array of experiments in online deliberation has now been developed to achieve online discussions, which would be beneficial for democracy. However, few studies have yet attempted to compare the outcomes of online mini-publics to online citizens’ discussions in general. This article, thus, concerns an online experiment carried out in 2013 with the purpose of examining whether, and under which conditions, forums designed according to deliberative principles produce better ‘democratic outcomes’ – such as coherence of opinions, increased efficacy, trust, and propensity for civic participation – than online citizens’ discussions, which are ‘left to their own devices’. The study applies a post-test only, 2×2 factorial design, with a control group. In total, N=70 participants taking part in the experiment. The findings indicate that the effects of designing for deliberation were generally positive, albeit not for all of the democratic outcomes. In addition, methodological issues of relevance for the internal and external validity of the current experiment, which could be of relevance for future studies, are also brought forth.

Copyright
Corresponding author
*E-mail: kistrand@abo.fi
Linked references
Hide All

This list contains references from the content that can be linked to their source. For a full set of references and notes please see the PDF or HTML where available.

C.F. Camerer and R.M. Hogarth (1999), ‘The effects of financial incentives in experiments: a review and capital-labor-production framework’, Journal of Risk and Uncertainty 19(2–3): 742.

L. Dahlberg (2001), ‘The internet and democratic discourse – exploring the prospects of online deliberative forums extending the public sphere’, Information, Communication & Society 4(4): 615633.

J.S. Fishkin , R.C. Luskin and R. Jowell (2000), ‘Deliberative polling and public consultation’, Parliamentary Affairs 53: 657666.

P.W. Hamlett and M.D. Cobb (2006), ‘Potential solutions to public deliberation problems: structured deliberations and polarization cascades’, The Policy Studies Journal 34: 629648.

J.R. Hibbing and E. Theiss-Morse (2002), Stealth Democracy Americans’ Beliefs About How Government Should Work, New York: Cambridge University Press.

D. Janssen and R. Kies (2005), ‘Online forums and deliberative democracy’, Acta Politica 40(3): 317335.

S.-J. Min (2007), ‘Online vs. face-to-face deliberation: effects on civic engagement’, Journal of Computer Mediated Communication 12: 13691387.

R.B. Morton and K.C. Williams (2010), Experimental Political Science and the Study of Causality: From Nature to the Lab, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

D.C. Mutz (2006), Hearing the Other Side: Deliberative Versus Participatory Democracy, New York: Cambridge University Press.

Z. Papacharissi (2004), ‘Democracy online: civility, politeness, and the democratic potential of online political discussion groups’, New Media & Society 6(2): 259283.

D.M. Ryfe (2005), ‘Does deliberative democracy work?’, Annual Review of Political Science 8: 4971.

G. Smith , P. John and P. Sturgis (2013), ‘Taking political engagement online: an experimental analysis of asynchronous discussion forums’, Political Studies 61: 709730.

J. Stromer-Galley (2002), ‘New voices in the public sphere: a comparative analysis of interpersonal and online political talk’, Javnost – The Public 9(2): 2342.

C.R. VanVoorhis and B.L. Morgan (2007), ‘Understanding power and rules of thumb for determining sample sizes’, Tutorials in Quantitative Methods for Psychology 3(2): 4350.

S. Wright and J. Street (2007), ‘Democracy, deliberation and design: the case of online discussion forums’, New Media & Society 9: 849869.

Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

European Political Science Review
  • ISSN: 1755-7739
  • EISSN: 1755-7747
  • URL: /core/journals/european-political-science-review
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *
×

Keywords:

Metrics

Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 7
Total number of PDF views: 99 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 421 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between September 2016 - 26th July 2017. This data will be updated every 24 hours.