Measuring Deliberation

How deliberative are communicative interactions in politics and society? This is one of the big issues for deliberative theorists and empirical scholars alike. I have been one of the co-developers of the widely used Discourse Quality Index (DQI). The DQI, which provides a quantitative content analysis of deliberative quality, can be employed in a variety of settings. It has allowed researchers to examine the deliberative qualities and consequences of parliamentary interactions as well as deliberative mini-public. It has also been used in experimental research and served as a template in the Varieties of Democracy project for assessing the deliberative aspects of a country’s politics (Coppedge et al. 2011).  The automation of the DQI was taken recently with DelibAnalysis, which used machine learning to derive scores for online deliberations with politicians (Fournier-Tombs and Di Marzo Serugendo 2019).

Key Publications

André Bächtiger, Marlène Gerber and Eléonore Fournier-Tombs. Discourse Quality Index. Forthcoming in S. Ercan et al., Assessing Deliberation: Research Methods in Deliberative Democracy, Oxford: Oxford University Press

André Bächtiger and Marina Lindell (2017). “Benchmarking” Deliberative Quality across Sites. Political Communication Report, Issue 26.

Marco R. Steenbergen, André Bächtiger, Markus Spörndli, and Jürg Steiner (2003). Measuring Political Deliberation. A Discourse Quality Index. Comparative European Politics 1: 21-48. 11


Mapping and Measuring Deliberation

In this book with John Parkinson (Maastricht University), we promote a new understanding of deliberation and deliberativeness. The starting point of the book is a criticism how many researchers and practitioners have understood (and understand) deliberation, namely as a fixed and unitary construct that quasi-automatically supports and strengthens democracy. Our new approach also understands deliberation as performative, as a creative activity in which deliberative elements mingle with other forms of communication. Finally, we understand deliberation as distributed: deliberative qualities are not concentrated in one location or at one moment, but are dispersed over space and time, also at the micro level. On this basis, we aim to re-politicise deliberation and build bridges to standard political science and communication studies. On the methodological front, we declare the search for a grand, unified index of deliberative quality as over. When deliberative goods such as reason-giving or listening are contingent on goals and contexts or can be distributed across space and time, then ‘measuring’ deliberative quality cannot be done on the basis of an index which aggregates fixed deliberative standards found in a communicative sequence of a single forum.


Review by Edwina Bavosa (2019). Perspectives on Politics 17(4): 1170-1172.

Interview with André Bächtiger on Deliberative Democracy: Taking Stock and Looking Ahead (2019). Democratic Theory 6: 97-110.

The Oxford Handbook of Deliberative Democracy

The Oxford Handbook of Deliberative Democracy takes stock of deliberative democracy as a research field, as well as exploring and creating links with multiple disciplines and policy practice around the globe. It provides a concise history of deliberative ideals in political thought while also discussing their philosophical origins. It locates deliberation in a political system with different spaces, publics, and venues, including parliament and courts but also governance networks, protests, mini-publics, old and new media, and everyday talk. It documents the intersections of deliberative ideals with contemporary political theory, involving epistemology, representation, constitutionalism, justice, and multiculturalism. It explores the intersections of deliberative democracy with major research fields in the social sciences and law, including social and rational choice theory, communications, psychology, sociology, international relations, framing approaches, policy analysis, planning, democratization, and methodology. It engages with practical applications, mapping deliberation as a reform movement and as a device for conflict resolution. It documents the practice and study of deliberative democracy around the world, in Asia, Latin America, Africa, Europe, and global governance. And it provides reflections on the field by pioneering thinkers.



Prof. Dr. Andre Baechtiger
Universität Stuttgart
Institut für Sozialwissenschaften

Breitscheidstr. 2
70174 Stuttgart

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