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.

News

New publications

Edana Beauvais and André Bächtiger (2016). Taking the Goals of Deliberation Seriously: A Differentiated View on Equality and Equity in Deliberative Designs and Processes. Forthcoming Journal of Public Deliberation.
Deliberation must be immunized against coercive power by a baseline of equality. But what does the requirement of equality mean, in practice, for organizers designing deliberative events and forums? This question is complicated by the fact that equality is fundamentally about two—at times contradictory—values. On the one hand, the value of universal moral equality, which requires abstracting from social circumstances. On the other hand, the value of equity, which requires attending to social circumstances. Deliberative institutions vary in their capacity to promote one value over the other, or in their capacity to compromise between the two. We argue that negotiating between these twin values should be done with reference to the different goals of the deliberative process (generating legitimate decisions, producing more informed opinions, promoting mutual respect, enabling accommodation, and so on), and with an eye to the trade-offs that achieving particular goals might require. Focusing on civic forums, we review existing research related to three important aspects of design—participant recruitment, the nature of the interaction, and decision-making—and discuss how different designs impact deliberation’s different normative goals. We argue against a totalizing view of deliberation, where unitary institutions try to achieve all of deliberation’s goals at once, and instead discuss how the trade-offs between deliberation’s different functions can be resolved at the system level. We conclude by arguing that practitioners should not try to realize all deliberative goals—including equality and equity—at once, but rather should prioritize the goals they want to achieve, and select institutional rules and practices that optimally achieve these goals.

 

Marina Lindell, André Bächtiger, Kimmo Grönlund, Kaisa Herne, Maija Setälä, and Dominik Wyss (2016). What drives the Polarization and Moderation of Opinions? Evidence from a Finnish Citizen Deliberation Experiment on Immigration. Forthcoming European Journal of Political Research.http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/1475-6765.12162/abstract
In the study of deliberation, a largely under-explored area is why some participants polarise their opinion after deliberation and why others moderate them. Opinion polarisation is usually considered a suspicious outcome of deliberation, while moderation is seen as a desirable one. This article takes issue with this view. Results from a Finnish deliberative experiment on immigration show that polarisers and moderators were not different in socioeconomic, cognitive or affective profiles. Moreover, both polarisation and moderation can entail deliberatively desired pathways: in the experiment, both polarisers and moderators learned during deliberation, levels of empathy were fairly high on both sides, and group pressures barely mattered. Finally, the low physical presence of immigrants in some discussion groups was associated with polarisation in the anti-immigrant direction, bolstering longstanding claims regarding the importance of presence for democratic politics.

 

Marlène Gerber, André Bächtiger, Susumu Shikano, Simon Reber and Samuel Rohr (2016). Deliberative Abilities and Influence in a Transnational Deliberative Poll (EuroPolis). Forthcoming British Journal of Political Science.
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.


Lucio Baccaro, André Bächtiger, and Marion Deville (2016). Small Differences That Matter. The Impact of Discussion Modalities on Deliberative Outcomes. British Journal of Political Science 45, 551-566. http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/S0007123414000167
An experiment on the extension of the political rights of foreigners in the Swiss city of Geneva used three different procedural ways to structure deliberation: participants take positions at the outset, do not take positions, and reflect first. Most opinion change occurred when participants did not have to take a position at the outset. However, no learning effects were recorded, the deliberative quality was poor and group influence had the greatest impact. When participants had to take a position at the outset, opinion change and group influence were least, but there was significant learning, and the deliberative quality was better. These results indicate a potential trade-off between opinion change – which many scholars equate with deliberative success – and good procedural deliberative quality.


Dominik Wyss, Simon Beste, and André Bächtiger (2015). A Decline in the Quality of Debate? The Evolution of Cognitive Complexity in Swiss Parliamentary Debates on Immigration (1968-2014). Swiss Political Science Review 21, 636-653. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/spsr.12179/full
This article explores the evolution of debate quality in the Swiss parliament. Focusing on immigration debates, we employ a psychological construct—cognitive complexity (CC)—which captures both epistemic and accommodative dimensions of political argumentation. We find a decrease in CC in parliamentary immigration debates over time, but this decrease was driven by the rise of the SVP (Swiss People's Party). However, there was almost no “spillover” of this new communication style to other parties. Moreover, we also find a constant difference between the Ständerat and the Nationalrat, with the former scoring higher on CC and thus asserting its role as a “chambre de réflexion” in immigration debates. Our diachronic focus on the quality of political debate takes a novel perspective on the dynamics of consensus democracy as well as on elite political culture. While our results indicate that the rise of the SVP has transformed the traditional consensual and deliberative pattern of Swiss policy-making style into one which is geared towards less accommodation and a higher simplicity of political talk, there is still remarkable resilience against this new style of political interaction.


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.
Read NicoleCurato's review of "Deliberative Mini-Publics" in Perspectives on Politics: http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/S1537592716002164

February 2017

Second Deliberative Democracy Summer School, February 15-17 2017, University of Canberra (Australia)

The Centre for Deliberative Democracy and Global Governance organizes a the three-day summer school which will focus on classical debates and emerging themes in deliberative theory and practice, including deliberative cultures, representation in the deliberative system and methodological innovations in researching deliberative politics. I will talk on methodological innovations and blindspots. Two PhD students from the University of Stuttgart and Lucerne – Saskia Geyer and Simon Beste – will present their work.

December 2016

Lecture by Rune Sloothus on Political Framing on Thursday, December 1.

October 2016

The Charlie Hebdo Critical Juncture: European Public Spheres Before and After the Paris Attacks. COSMOS – Centre on Social Movement Studies, Florence 20-21 October 2016.
I will give a keynote speech on “Deliberation to the Rescue? Deliberative Potentials and Pitfalls in the Transformation of the European Public Spheres”.

September 2016

ECPR General Conference in Prague

There were great panels in the democratic innovation section and my research assistants and PhD students from Stuttgart did a fabulous job in presenting our common and their own research!

tl_files/baechtiger/images/News/Prag.jpg

May 2016

Visiting Professorship

In 2016/17 I am visiting (adjunct) professor at Åbo Akademi (Finland) in the Minority Research program. This will allow me to pursue existing and new research threads with various researchers at Åbo Akademi, both in Åbo and in Vasa!

April 2016

Deliberative Survey Experiment on Democratic Preferences

In collaboration with the NCCR Democracy at the University of Zurich, my team has conducted a deliberative survey experiment on democratic preferences in April 2016. 297 German citizens eventually participated. We confronted participants with two decision cases, namely the construction of an asylum home in own's own neighbourhood (a salient and emotional issue) and speed limits in the context of particulates (a more technical issue). Citizens were then asked how decisions should be ideally made: by representatives, direct democracy, experts, deliberative citizen involvement or combinations thereof. Participants were randomly assigned to three groups: a first (treatment) group got information about the pros and cons of different governance schemes and deliberated about the it; a second (control) group only got the information but did not deliberate; a third (full control) group was only surveyed twice. With regard to the deliberative treatment, we applied a fully-automated computer tool dubbed Smartopinion. Smartopinion is an asynchronic discussion tool containing a support chat, an argumentative map, and an artificial moderator. First results show that while many citizens want to be directly involved when the topic is salient and emotional, they prefer decisions delegated to representatives and experts when the topic is more technical.

Here is a description of the project including first results (in German). Demokratiepräferenzen

April 2015

New position

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.
http://www.uni-stuttgart.de

March 2015

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.

Recent writing

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.

 

Contact

Prof. Dr. Andre Baechtiger
Universität Stuttgart
Institut für Sozialwissenschaften

Breitscheidstr. 2
70174 Stuttgart

andre.baechtiger@sowi.uni-stuttgart.de

Phone: +49 711 685-81450
Fax: +49 711 685-83432