Democracy as Public Talk

in Real Democracy

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print December 2003 | ISBN: 9780226077963
Published online March 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226077987 | DOI:
Democracy as Public Talk

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Some town meetings bubble with talk, while others seem much quieter. What is it that makes a meeting talkative? Is it something about the meeting, about the town where it is held? The answer is complicated in ways that should whet the appetites of social scientists. While town size stands first in the causal ordering of all variables that might add to our understanding of town meeting attendance, meeting size does not stand first for verbal participation at the town meeting. Meeting size is dependent in part on town size. Increasing town size thus hurts real democracy in two ways. First, it dramatically reduces the percentage of citizens who attend town meeting. Second, town size increases the number of citizens who attend, which dramatically decreases the percentage of these attendees who participate.

Keywords: public talk; democracy; town meeting; meeting attendance; verbal participation; meeting size

Chapter.  11055 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: US Politics

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