Who Deliberates?

in Talking Together

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print July 2009 | ISBN: 9780226389868
Published online March 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226389899 | DOI:
Who Deliberates?

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Consistent and strong evidence that public talk was systematically unrepresentative would confirm the strong criticisms of deliberation for reproducing and even exacerbating economic and social inequalities in American society, and would also deepen the sobering reality of American democracy. Some past studies on public deliberation have indicated that people with the most time, resources, expertise, and information appear to participate most extensively in public forums. This chapter investigates who deliberates, especially in face-to-face forums. The findings indicate notable differences regarding which Americans engage in public deliberation. What is striking is that these differences do not support the dire conclusion that citizen deliberation replicates entrenched social and economic status. Indeed, the analysis suggests that the discursive participation of Americans is less directly tied to the traditional social and economic correlates of political behavior than are other forms of political participation.

Keywords: public talk; democracy; public deliberation; discursive participation; public forums; economic status; forums; political behavior; political participation

Chapter.  7982 words. 

Subjects: US Politics

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