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Growing numbers of scholars, practitioners, politicians, and citizens recognize the value of deliberative civic engagement processes that enable citizens and governments to come together in public spaces and engage in constructive dialogue, informed discussion, and decisive deliberation. This book seeks to fill a gap in empirical studies in deliberative democracy by studying the assembly of the Australian Citizens’ Parliament (ACP), which took place in Canberra on February 6–8, 2009. The ACP addressed the question “How can the Australian political system be strengthened to serve us better?”
The ACP’s Canberra assembly is the first large-scale, face-to-face deliberative project to be completely audio-recorded and transcribed, enabling an unprecedented level of qualitative and quantitative assessment of participants’ actual spoken discourse. Each chapter reports on different research questions for different purposes to benefit different audiences. Combined, they exhibit how diverse modes of research focused on a single event can enhance both theoretical and practical knowledge about deliberative democracy.
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Lyn Carson is Professor in the Business Programs Unit at the University of Sydney Business School and a co-initiator of the Australian Citizens’ Parliament.
John Gastil is Professor and Head of Communication Arts and Sciences at The Pennsylvania State University.
Janette Hartz-Karp is Professor of Sustainability at Curtin University’s Sustainability Policy Institute.
Ron Lubensky is a doctoral candidate at the School of Humanities and Communication Arts, University of Western Sydney.Review:
“As innovators in democratic process, we know how much we depend on learning from practical trials and real-world experiences. This work captures the experience in detail and provides an important reference point for anyone hoping to bring deliberation and the citizen’s voice back into how we do government.”
—Iain Walker, executive director, The newDemocracy Foundation
“This study shows that deliberative capacity, personal efficacy, and common political ground can be developed through the careful design of deliberative institutions among ordinary citizens; even so, meaningful political influence over a broader social scale remains as elusive as ever. The editors present valuable and hard-won lessons for citizens, leaders, and academics who hope to realize the practical political and moral benefits of a more truly deliberative and democratic public life. The Australian Citizens’ Parliament and the Future of Deliberative Democracy is full of practical wisdom for anyone who sets out to create a democratic deliberative space for ordinary citizens.”
—Mark E. Button, University of Utah
“From conception to conclusion, this book narrates and analyzes an ambitious experiment in deliberative democracy: the Australian Citizens’ Parliament. Integrating social science analyses of many kinds of data with reflections by philosophers and civic reform–minded public participation practitioners, the volume offers a rich sense of what occurred in the different phases of the ACP process and provides a nuanced assessment of the strengths and weaknesses of this large-scale deliberative democracy experiment. This wonderful case study is a must-read for everyone interested in deliberative democracy.”
—Karen Tracy, University of Colorado, and author of Challenges of Ordinary Democracy
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