Changes in Public Opinion After A Public-Deliberation Event
This paper addresses a question related to the increasing interest in using new methods for aspiring to the democratic ideal of public involvement in governance. Previous research has examined the influence of jury deliberation in the justice system and found an increase in and reinforcement of civic attitudes about citizenship for jury deliberators themselves but not for the larger public. This paper reports on public opinion before and after a public-deliberation event (“Citizen Panel”) in a major Canadian city. A randomly selected group of 5,000 citizens were asked about (a) the value of public deliberation for gathering informed input into major decisions to be made by the municipal government, and (b) the substantive issues that were discussed in the Citizen Panel. Respondents’ willingness to participate in a future public-deliberation event increased in strength from the pre- to post-survey, suggesting that citizens who gained knowledge about the purposes and goals of public deliberation were more likely to be willing to participate.
Key words: Citizen Opinion; Citizen Panel; Public Deliberation; Public Involvement
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