Why Deliberative Polling

Critical Review, Volume 23, Issue 3

 By James S. Fishkin

An excerpt: Contrary to Laurel Gleason's assertions, Deliberative Polling among random samples is not a process that is dominated by “experts” or by certain categories of deliberator; it produces genuine gains among the participants in knowledge of information that has been verified as true and relevant; it does not cause ideological polarization; and it is not intended as a substitute for, rather than a supplement to, deliberation on the part of the general public.


Instead of deliberative democracy being merely a distant aspiration or a hazy ideal, it can be realized practically, in my view, with the right institutional design. Deliberative Polling1 is both a form of public consultation and an exploration of what that design should be. It attempts to explore what the public would conclude about a policy issue under good conditions for thinking about the issue. The idea is to realize two fundamental values—political equality and deliberation—that, in my view, are the core values of deliberative democracy.


I first conceived of Deliberative Polling in 1988 and have been implementing it in collaboration with Robert C. Luskin and others in various countries around the world, usually working with local institutions and scholars in the specific countries. Over the years there have been many refinements as well as unexpected applications. Laurel Gleason's critique, keyed to my early book The Voice of the People (1995), raises a number of important questions. However, there are crucial misunderstandings in her paper and I will try to sort them out here. In doing so I will rely on the way I have set out the issues in my more recent book When the People Speak (2009).

 

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(Something interesting I found)Posted: Tuesday, May 08, 2012 by agomberg
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