How to “sell” engaged politics: An examination and justification of individual -level benefits in deliberative democracy
Deliberative democratic theory proposes an active citizenry that becomes empowered by discussing and taking and active part in politics. There is a large gap between theory and practice in the deliberative democratic literature. Namely, while many scholars have theorized why deliberative democracy can be considered normatively desirable, fewer studies have measured whether the benefits gained from deliberation are plausible. Almost all of the major empirical studies in the literature involve either quasi-experimental designs or fieldwork. As such, it becomes difficult to tell whether or not deliberation does produce benefits for individuals, and if so, how durable these gains are.
This doctoral dissertation project explores the individual benefits of deliberation by defining, describing and defending the desirability of the more commonly cited benefits. This is followed by a full experimental set-up that includes one control group and three different treatment groups that participate in different forms of deliberation. The treatment groups include: a group that only watches deliberation, a group that participates in a non-hierarchical and informal discussion, and a group that participates in a rigorously-moderated and highly structured deliberation. The hypotheses indicate that different treatment conditions will have different effects on the existence and magnitude of the two types of individual benefits: civic and educative.