- What is deliberative democracy?
- What is deliberative dialogue?
- Why use deliberative dialogue to address public issues?
- What issues can be addressed using deliberative dialogue?
- Some examples of locally framed issues
- What is an issue book and an issue brief?
- How are issues framed for deliberation?
- What is the purpose of having issues framed in terms of choices for action?
- What is common ground? How is it different from compromise or consensus?
What is deliberative democracy?
Deliberative democracy is a term that signifies an approach to democracy that puts citizens at the center of the political process and that is more "voice-centered" than "vote-centered." In this conception of democracy, citizens play a more robust role from the local to the global levels in helping to set the public agenda and to decide about what will be the broad directions for public policy. They are expected to meet in public to discuss, debate and deliberate their reasons for the claims they make and to link their efforts and ideas with those of their elected and appointed representatives in public office. Deliberative democracy is animated by the idea that public deliberation and dialogue are essential for better and fairer solutions to public problems, a stronger sense of legitimacy for public processes and institutions, and greater social unity and solidarity in society, in general.
What is deliberative dialogue?
Deliberative dialogue is a set of practices for communicating with others and addressing common problems and issues. These practices enable people to talk about difficult issues not only on the basis of knowledge, facts, and professional expertise, but also from the perspective of their deeper concerns, values and personal experience. These practices help participants speak not only as individuals, but as members of a community, not only as groups with competing interests, but also as a community with shared interests, concerns and goals.
Deliberative dialogues are structured conversations of varying lengths and formats with ground rules and a discussion guide that lays out a range of possible approaches to an issue-an issue book or an issue brief-that participants move through with the help of a trained moderator. The ground rules encourage participants to listen to each other, and to get beyond debating and other adversarial ways of communicating. Discussion guides or issue books/briefs frame the issue in a way that helps participants wrestle with choices and tradeoffs associated with making tough public policy decisions. Moderators encourage participants to weigh the advantages and disadvantages of various approaches to an issue that are laid out in the issue book or brief, and to reach for common ground in creating general directions for acting together. This is what is called doing "choice work". Deliberative dialogues are not debates, nor are they casual or superficial conversations. They involve thinking and reasoning together and working through conflicting possible choices with others in an effort to reach some common understandings and decisions about how to address and take action on an issue.