The idea of a “deliberative citizen” (Chambers 2003) has been met with a lot of scepticism. Critics have argued that citizens lack the abilities to engage in reasoned deliberation and only ‘offer simple, short, unelaborated statements of their views of an event’ (Rosenberg 2014: 108). Moreover, critics have also argued that deliberation may be undemocratic because classic forms of deliberation discriminate against already disadvantaged persons (especially people with low socioeconomic status). Furthermore, outcomes of citizen deliberations would reflect such biases and would be additionally affected by group dynamics (such as social conformity pressures) rather than the ‘better argument’. My empirical research shows that critics are largely misled when it comes to the deliberative capacities of citizens under the supportive conditions of deliberative minipublics. Under such conditions, the standards of classic deliberation are far from being utopian standards that only very few citizen deliberators can achieve. While some biases in deliberative abilities exist, there is no evidence that different speaking styles have a discernible impact on influence. And there is some evidence that opinion change in minipublics can be partly attributed to a systematic, justificatory, and argument-based component and not to undesirable group dynamics.
André Bächtiger and Vanessa Schwaiger (2022). Deliberative Innovations and the (Re-)Inclusion of Underrepresented Citizens. In Claudia Landwehr, Armin Schäfer and Thomas Saalfeld (eds), The State and Future of Representative Democracy - A Comparative Perspective. Forthcoming Cambridge: Cambridge University Press
André Bächtiger and Saskia Goldberg (2020). Towards a More Robust, but Limited and Contingent Defence of the Political Uses of Deliberative Minipublics. Journal of Deliberative Democracy, 16(2), 33–42.
Nicole Curato, Julien Vrydagh and André Bächtiger. (2020). Democracy without Shortcuts: Introduction to the Special Issue. Journal of Deliberative Democracy, 16(2), 1–9.
John S. Dryzek, D. Nicol, S. Niemeyer, S. Pemberton, N. Curato, A. Bächtiger, P. Batterham, B. Bedsted, S. Burall, M. Burgess, G. Burgio, Y. Castelfranchi, H. Chneiweiss, G. Church, M. Crossley, J. de Vries, M. Farooque, M. Hammond, B. He, R. Mendonça, J. Merchant, A. Middleton, J. Rasko, I. Van Hoyweghen, A. Vergne (2020). Global citizen deliberation on genome editing. Global governance can be informed by a deliberative assembly composed of lay citizens. Science, Vol. 369, Issue 6510, pp. 1435-1437.
John S. Dryzek, André Bächtiger, Simone Chambers, Joshua Cohen, James N. Druckman, Andrea Felicetti, James S. Fishkin, David M. Farrell, Archon Fung, Amy Gutmann, Hélène Landemore, Jane Mansbridge, Sofie Marien, Michael A. Neblo, Simon Niemeyer, Maija Setälä, Rune Slothuus, Jane Suiter, Dennis Thompson and Mark E. Warren (2019). The Crisis of Democracy and the Science of Deliberation. Science, Vol. 363, Issue 6432, pp. 1144-1146.
Marlène Gerber, André Bächtiger, Susumu Shikano, Simon Reber and Samuel Rohr (2018). Deliberative Abilities and Influence in a Transnational Deliberative Poll (EuroPolis). British Journal of Political Science 48: 1093-1118.
Kimmo Grönlund, André Bächtiger and Maija Setälä (eds., 2014). Deliberative Mini-Publics - Involving Citizens in the Democratic Process. Colchester: ECPR Press.
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.
John Dryzek, André Bächtiger, and Karolina Milewicz (2011). Toward a Deliberative Global Citizens’ Assembly. Global Policy 2: 33-42.