Monday, December 7, 2009

When People Speak

Jim Fishkin has become famous in deliberative democracy circles for his approach to engaging citizens in a way that blends traditional polling with more deliberative practices. His angle--deliberative polling--has been used in many settings to measure what role deliberation plays in shaping and reshaping the minds of citizens.  

Here's a piece on Fishkin's new book as well as a project he's doing in Michigan.

There are many who have issues with this approach, but there are many things that deliberative polling does that we have difficulty doing otherwise; few others have figured out how to engage such large populations in a way that allows citizens to have a voice rather than simply answering poll questions that are structured in such a way that impedes one from actually representing what one thinks.

The challenge, from the critical perspective of deliberative polling, is that it still only draws from those who are able and confident enough to engage in such deliberations. These are serious concerns, especially when one is using deliberative practices to engage those who are marginalized by the politcal process.

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