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Deliberation 246Let's continue to build community - adding deliberation

From articles by CitizenLab

When talking about citizen engagement, a distinction is usually made between participation and deliberation. Participation is for large scale, action-based, asynchronous actions - think voting, surveys, or participatory budgeting.

Deliberation, on the other hand, is about smaller-scale, in-depth, qualitative engagement. Its main purpose is to reach a consensus within a group. It is usually done offline, through citizen workshops or citizen assemblies but online tools are also appearing.

In both deliberative and participatory democracies, citizens play the starring role. And in both systems, citizens are empowered to let their voices be heard and weigh in on the way their community is governed.

In short, we can state that while participation focuses on empowering citizens to take action, deliberation focuses on discussion and debate between citizens and other stakeholders. While participation focuses on the actions themselves, deliberation focuses on the decision-making process that precedes policy-making.

A famous example of deliberation is a Citizens’ Assembly, a group of citizens that is called upon to deliberate on a course of action and formulate policy recommendations. In the case of deliberation, reaching a consensus is usually the end goal. It means you have to bring citizens together, organise a constructive debate, and offer the necessary resources for them to weigh all the aspects of the discussion.

Because deliberation requires more organisation, it is also harder to scale. That’s why it works best with small, representative samples of the population.

There are ways to combine participation and deliberation. People can be invited to submit ideas and proposals online for consideration by participants who are meeting in person. Conversely, recommendations and ideas generated at deliberative events can form the base of digital participation efforts.

Online citizen workshop software is now becoming more sophisticated to enable small group deliberation and exchange of ideas as debate progresses.

Participation used together with deliberation ensures meaningful engagement on a large scale, therefore giving a central place to citizens in the decision-making process.

If you are part of government - either national, regional or local, are you considering how you can continue to build community not only through participation but also deliberation?

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From articles by CitizenLab, 14/07/2020

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