In this episode I speak to three academics who each take a critical perspective on the operation of deliberative mini-publics. Each of them takes issue with a different aspect of the impact or influence that the recommendations coming from deliberative mini-publics have on public policy.
For Associate Professor Genevieve Fuji Johnson the failure of the democratic innovations she studied (which includes deliberative mini-publics and deliberative polling) was that they didn't have any real impact on policy and decision-making.
Professor Cristina La Font takes basically the opposite view. For her deliberative mini-publics should not have any impact on policy decisions, rather they should be used to support the broader engagement of citizens.
Associate Professor Caroline Lee’s critique is that many democratic innovations, including deliberative mini-publics, appear to allow for influence or impact but the issues they are asked to consider are often heavily circumscribed, and deliberative mini-publics are explicitly denied the opportunity to address the challenges underlying the difficult issues they are faced with.
And Roslyn Fuller provides another perspective suggesting that citizens may change how they approach decision-making within a deliberative mini-public depending on whether they believe their recommendations will be implemented or not.
This is the final episode of Season 1 looking at deliberative mini-publics. If you haven't already listened to episodes 1 - 18 I'd suggest you go back and listen to them all, starting with Professor Carson explaining what deliberative mini-publics are in episode 1.1.
Season 2 will look at the history of democracy, the dominant model of representative democracy, as well as what is working and what isn’t.
Season 2 will commence in mid-March. I hope you'll join me then.