My research aims to understand how we can renew our democracies by communication and deliberation. The key goal is to develop novel links between normative theory and empirical political science, as well as to transform normative ideas into practical applications. My current research focuses on optimal forms of deliberation, deliberative reforms in elite politics, the potential of citizen deliberation in direct democracy, the deliberative abilities of ordinary citizens, deliberation on political rights of foreigners, and the mapping and measuring of deliberation. On this site, you can take a look at my different research projects and find links to articles and working papers.
Arbeitskreis Handlungs- und Entscheidungstheorie at the University of Stuttgart (July 3-4, 2015)
The annual conference does deliberately not focus on a specific topic but looks for a broad variety of papers with a behavior- or decision-theoretic background.
Abstracts for papers/talks should be submitted by May 24, 2015 (email@example.com).
The new yearbook just came out!
Lucio Baccaro, André Bächtiger, and Marion Deville (2014). Small Differences Matter. The Impact of Discussion Modalities on Deliberative Outcomes. Forthcoming British Journal of Political Science.
This paper argues that different discussion modalities can have a significant impact on the processes and outcomes of deliberation. In an experiment on the extension of political rights of foreigners in the Swiss city of Geneva, we found that when participants did not have to take position, the highest amount of opinion change occurred, but no learning effects were recorded, while deliberative quality was lowest and group influence had the greatest impact. When participants had to take position, opinion change and group influence were lowest, but there was a significant learning effect, and deliberative quality was highest. These results indicate a potential trade-off between opinion change - which many scholars equate with deliberative success – and good procedural deliberative quality.
Kimmo Grönlund, André Bächtiger, and Maija Setäla (eds., 2014) Deliberative Minipublics – Involving Citizens in the Democratic Process. Colchester: ECPR Press.
This book offers systematic and novel accounts of the booming phenomenon of deliberative mini-publics. Bringing together leading scholars in the field, it focuses on preconditions, processes, and outcomes of deliberative mini-publics while simultaneously providing a critical assessment of current mini-public designs and practices.
I have moved to the Chair of Political Theory and Empirical Democratization Research at the University of Stuttgart. The Chair will come with a new European Center of Deliberative Democracy, closely collaborating with the Deliberative Democracy Center at the University of Canberra and the Ash Center of Democratic Governance at Harvard University) More to follow soon.
We have run the first SmartOpinion experiment with randomly selected Swiss citizens on the Durchsetzungsinitiative of the Swiss People’s Party (SVP) (in collaboration with the LINK Institute). SmartOpinion is a fully automated discussion platform involving an argumentative map and artificial facilitation. The goal of this first experiment was to check whether the intervention of an artificial facilitator (called Sophie) boosts the epistemic quality of participants’ opinions (measured by the psychological concept of cognitive complexity) compared to participants who only had access to an argumentative map and to participants in a true control group.
Deliberative Democracy Summer School in Canberra
The Centre for Deliberative Democracy and Global Governance has organized the first Deliberative Democracy Summer School at the University of Canberra on 16-18 February 2015. The three-day summer school focused on the current debates in the theory of deliberative democracy, empirical applications, the role of deliberative mini-publics, and methods for studying deliberation at micro and macro levels. The summer school was an amazing experience in terms of thinking through old and new debates in deliberative democracy and meeting promising young scholars in this area of research.
Research Stay at Griffith University (Brisbane)
John Parkinson and I have spent an intensive week writing on our book on Mapping and Measuring Deliberation. We made significant progress and restated some central premises of the current empirical research on deliberation and deliberative democracy. We are looking forward to a truly “revolutionary” book, opening a new page on how to capture deliberative quality empirically.
I have given a talk in the tri-national citizen panel (“Trinationale Metropolregion Oberrhein”) on the topic of “What is needed for sustainable citizen dialogue? You can find the slides (in German) here.
NCCR Democracy Summer School
The 1st Swiss Summer School Democracy Studies took place in June 2014 at the University of Lucerne. I organized a workshop with Jane Mansbridge (Harvard University) on “Democratic Deliberation and Negotiation”. It was a very stimulating week at the shores of the Lake of Lucerne.
Marlène Gerber, André Bächtiger, Irena Fiket, Marco R. Steenbergen, and Jürg Steiner (2014). Deliberative and Non-Deliberative Persuasion: Opinion Change in a Pan-European Deliberative Poll (Europolis). European Union Politics 15: 410–429.
André Bächtiger und Marlène Gerber (2014). “Gentlemanly conversation’ or vigorous contestation? An exploratory analysis of communication modes in a transnational deliberative poll (Europolis)”. In: Grönlund, Kimmo, André Bächtiger and Maija Setälä (2014). Deliberative Minipublics. Colchester: ECPR Press.
André Bächtiger und Dominik Wyss (2013). “Empirische Deliberationsforschung – ein systematischer Überblick”. Zeitschrift für Vergleichende Politikwissenschaft 7: 155-181.
Gerald Eisenkopf and André Bächtiger (2013). “Mediation and Conflict Prevention”. Journal of Conflict Resolution 57: 570-597.
André Bächtiger, Judith Könemann, Ansgar Jödicke, and Dominik Hangartner (2013; with Roger Husistein, Melanie Zurlinden, Seraina Pedrini, Mirjam Cranmer, and Kathrin Schwaller). “Religious reasons in the public sphere: an empirical study of religious actors’ argumentative patterns in Swiss direct-democratic campaigns.” European Political Science Review 5: 105-131.
Seraina Pedrini, André Bächtiger, and Marco R. Steenbergen (2013). “Deliberative Inclusion of Minorities: Patterns of Reciprocity among Linguistic Groups in Switzerland.” European Political Science Review 5: 483-512.