Chapter

How Much Deliberation?

in Talking Together

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print July 2009 | ISBN: 9780226389868
Published online March 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226389899 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.7208/chicago/9780226389899.003.0002
How Much Deliberation?

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How extensive are discursive politics in general and public deliberation more specifically? How many Americans voice their preferences on public issues by talking in public about issues that affect localities, states, and the nation? How often do they talk about public issues in informal, one-on-one conversations, e-mail exchanges, and meetings that have been formally organized to facilitate face-to-face discussions? How do these diverse forms of discursive participation compare with better-known types of political participation such as voting, signing a petition, or writing a government official? This chapter considers the extent of discursive participation in the United States, presenting evidence from a survey of Americans that public talk is more extensive than previously assumed. Although participation is not universal, eight out of ten Americans engage in some form of public talking, and one-fourth participate in face-to-face forums. This is a much more robust level of engagement than that suggested by warnings that deliberation is elitist. The participation of Americans extends from informal conversations to the most taxing and structured form of deliberation: face-to-face interactions.

Keywords: discursive politics; public deliberation; discursive participation; United States; public talk; interactions; informal conversations; political participation

Chapter.  4593 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: US Politics

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