Democracy When the People Are Thinking P: Revitalizing Our Politics Through Public Deliberation

ISBN : 9780198865186

James S. Fishkin
272 Pages
156 x 234 mm
Pub date
Jun 2020
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Democracy requires a connection to the 'will of the people'. What does that mean in a world of 'fake news', relentless advocacy, dialogue mostly among the like-minded, and massive spending to manipulate public opinion? What kind of opinion can the public have under such conditions? What would democracy be like if the people were really thinking in depth about the policies they must live with? If they really 'deliberated' with good information about their political choices?

This book argues that 'deliberative democracy' is not utopian. It is a practical solution to many of democracy's ills. It can supplement existing institutions with practical reforms. It can apply at all levels of government and for many different kinds of policy choices. This volume speaks to a recurring dilemma: listen to the people and get the angry voices of populism or rely on widely distrusted elites and get policies that seem out of touch with the public's concerns. Instead, there are methods for getting a representative and thoughtful public voice that is really worth listening to. Democracy is under siege in most countries, where democratic institutions have low approval and face a resurgent threat from authoritarian regimes. Deliberative democracy can provide an antidote and can reinvigorate our democratic politics.

Democracy When the People Are Thinking draws on the author's research with many collaborators on 'Deliberative Polling'-a process conducted in 27 countries on six continents. It contributes both to political theory and to the empirical study of public opinion and participation. It should interest anyone concerned about the future of democracy and how it can be revitalized.


Part I: Introduction
1. Party Competition and Its Limits
2. Deliberation and Reform
Part II: Can the People Rule?
1. Four Criteria for Popular Control
2. Four Forms of Democracy
3. Popular Control in Competitive Democracies
5. Manipulation
6. Elite Deliberation and Popular Control: Madison's Filter
7. Participatory Democracy and Democratic Control: From Town Meetings to Referenda
8. Reflections on the Athenian Case
Part III: Making Deliberation Practical
1. Designing Deliberative Democracy
James S. Fishkin, Thad Kousser, Robert C. Luskin, and Alice Siu: 2. Deliberative Agenda Setting: California In One Room
3. Mongolia: Deliberative Participatory Budgeting
James S. Fishkin, Roy William Mayega, Lynn Atuyambe, Nathan Tumuhamye, Julius Ssentongo, Alice Siu and William Bazeyo: 4. Applying Deliberative Democracy in Africa: Uganda's First Deliberative Polls
James S Fishkin, Robert C. Luskin and Alice Siu: 5. Deliberating European Wide
Part IV: Re-imagining Democratic Possibilities
1. Designs for Deliberation: Where and How?
2. It Works in Practice, But Does It Work in Theory?
3. From Thought Experiments to Real Experiments: Reflections on Rawls and Habermas
4. Deliberative Democracy and Candidate Selection
5. Texas: Connecting Public Deliberation to Policy Elites
6. Connecting Deliberative Designs to Participatory Democracy
7. Deliberating Before Ballot Propositions: Reflecting on the 'Australian Republic'
8. Japan: Deliberation for Hard Choices
9. Deliberation Day
10. Connecting Deliberative Democracy to Constitutional Change
11. Speculating on New Institutions
12. Mongolia Deliberates for Constitutional Change
13. 'Deliberative Authoritarianism'?
14. 'Deliberative Systems' and Popular Control
15. Toward Collective Self-Rule

About the author: 

James S. Fishkin holds the Janet M. Peck Chair in International Communication at Stanford University, where he is Professor of Communication and (by courtesy) Professor of Political Science. He is also Director of Stanford's Center for Deliberative Democracy. He is the author of Democracy and Deliberation (Yale, 1991), When the People Speak: Deliberative Democracy and Public Consultation (OUP, 2009) and other books. He is a Guggenheim Fellow, a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and a fellow at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences, Stanford, California.

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