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Faculty Research Working Paper Series
David Lazer
Associate Professor of Public Policy
Who Wants to Deliberate - and Why?
Neblo, Michael, Kevin Esterling, Ryan Kennedy, David Lazer, and Anand Sokhey. "Who Wants to Deliberate - and Why?" HKS Faculty Research Working Paper Series RWP09-027, September 2009.
Abstract
Interest in deliberative theories of democracy has grown tremendously among political theorists over the last twenty years. Many scholars in political behavior, however, are skeptical that it is a practically viable theory, even on its own terms. They argue (inter alia) that most people dislike politics, and that deliberative initiatives would amount to a paternalistic imposition. Using two large, representative samples investigating people’s hypothetical willingness to deliberate and their actual behavior in response to a real invitation to deliberate with their member of Congress, we find: 1) that willingness to deliberate in the U.S. is much more widespread than expected; and 2) that it is precisely people who are less likely to participate in traditional partisan politics who are most interested in deliberative participation. They are attracted to such participation as a partial alternative to “politics as usual.”
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