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The Australian Citizens' Parliament and the Future of Deliberative Democracy

Edited by Lyn Carson, John Gastil, Janette Hartz-Karp, and Ron Lubensky

Publication Year: 2013

Growing numbers of scholars, practitioners, politicians, and citizens recognize the value of deliberative civic engagement processes that enable citizens and governments to come together in public spaces and engage in constructive dialogue, informed discussion, and decisive deliberation. This book seeks to fill a gap in empirical studies in deliberative democracy by studying the assembly of the Australian Citizens’ parliament (ACP), which took place in Canberra on February 6–8, 2009. The ACP addressed the question, “How can the Australian political system be strengthened to serve us better?” The ACP’s Canberra assembly is the first large-scale, face-to-face deliberative project to be completely audio-recorded and transcribed, enabling an unprecedented level of qualitative and quantitative assessment of participants’ actual spoken discourse. Each chapter reports on different research questions for different purposes to benefit different audiences. Combined, they exhibit how diverse modes of research focused on a single event can enhance both theoretical and practical knowledge about deliberative democracy,

Published by: Penn State University Press

Series: Rhetoric and Democratic Deliberation

Title Page, About the Series, Copyright

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pp. 2-5

Table of Contents

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pp. 6-9

List of Illustrations

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pp. ix-x

List of Tables

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pp. xi-xii

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pp. xiii-xvi

...Our heartfelt appreciation goes to the 150 Citizen Parliamentarians (CPs), without whom there would have been no Citizens’ Parliament and no book. We can’t name them because that was a condition of our research grant, but they know who they are, and so do we. We thank, in particular, those CPs who continued to act beyond the lifespan of the Australian Citizens’ Parliament...

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pp. 1-10

...Democracy remains the aspiration held by governments the world over. Newly minted nations typically build popular sovereignty into their constitutions, and those nations with long-standing traditions of self-governance continue to amend their own distinct methods of assembling, informing, and aggregating their many publics...

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PART I: Deliberative Design and Innovation

...The introduction to the book provided a brief overview of the Australia Citizens’ Parliament. The chapters in part I go further to describe the context, preparation, and procedures of the participatory process. In “Origins of the First Citizens’ Parliament” (chapter 1), Lyn Carson and Luca Belgiorno- Nettis look back on how the ACP came about. Written as a conversation...

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Chapter 1: Origins of the First Citizens’ Parliament

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pp. 13-20

...In this chapter we take a look at the origins of the Australian Citizens’ Parliament (ACP) in the same way it began, with a casual conversation. This happened years before the ACP itself. The two people involved, Lyn Carson and Luca Belgiorno-Nettis, recall both their fi rst meetings, the fateful conversation, and the events which followed. In the spirit of deliberative...

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Chapter 2: Putting Citizens in Charge: Comparing the Australian Citizens’ Parliament and the Australia 2020 Summit

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pp. 21-34

...Some observers trace the malaise to a “democratic defi cit”— institutional arrangements and conduct that appear at odds with the normative ideals of democracy, including factionalism within parties, the intentional polarization of issues by political partisans, the oversimplifi cation of issues in the news media, and the short time horizon of the policymaking process...

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Chapter 3: Choose Me: The Challenges of National Random Selection

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pp. 35-48

...In establishing a mini-public, a public-engagement convener asks not just how many people should be involved, but also how they should be invited. Some conveners prefer to open an event to all comers, in the hope that by sheer force of numbers, the hundreds or thousands of participants will encompass a suffi cient diversity of perspectives...

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Chapter 4: Grafting an Online Parliament onto a Face-to-Face Process

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pp. 49-62

...The Australian Citizens’ Parliament (ACP) organizers faced several signifi - cant challenges. Among them were the geographic distance between participants living in a vast continent and the commitment to let the participants themselves shape the direction and design of the ACP. To address both these challenges, an Online Parliament was introduced. Whereas chapters...

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PART II: Exploring Deliberation

...The central purpose of the ACP was to harness the power of democratic deliberation, and the chapters in part II provide a portrait of that deliberation. Most of the chapters in this part are based on the transcripts produced from the recorded table conversations at the ACP. The chapters demonstrate a range of useful approaches to studying the deliberation itself...

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Chapter 5: Listening Carefully to the Citizens’ Parliament: A Narrative Account

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pp. 65-80

...In response (and sometimes preemptively), I have paraphrased the survey comments of participants after the ACP was complete. Most, who had never done anything like this before, wrote generously about the process and their experience of it. For instance, one Citizen Parliamentarian (CP) said that the ACP gave “an appreciation of my role in the governance of country. I now...

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Chapter 6: Deliberative Design and Storytelling in the Australian Citizens’ Parliament

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pp. 81-94

...Stories describe experiences that relate to some kind of problem. They are told through the eyes of a character, who typically is both the protagonist and the storyteller. When people tell complete stories, their tale has a clear beginning and end, plus something in the middle, like a surprising turn of events, that makes it seem worthwhile to the listeners, who derive meaning...

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Chapter 7: What Counts as Deliberation? Comparing Participant and Observer Ratings

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pp. 95-107

...As a matter of convenience, commentators often refer to events like the Australian Citizens’ Parliament (ACP) as exercises in “democratic deliberation.” This parallels the casual way we use the word when we say a jury has left the courtroom to “go deliberate.” A more careful use of...

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Chapter 8: Hearing All Sides? Soliciting and Managing Different Viewpoints in Deliberation

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pp. 108-119

...In any complex deliberative process, a tension exists between welcoming new and different ideas and maintaining a clear focus on the problem at hand. When faced with this dilemma, organizers of the Australian Citizens’ Parliament (ACP) hoped to err “on the side of breadth” by privileging...

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Chapter 9: Sit Down and Speak Up: Stability and Change in Group Participation

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pp. 120-130

...Public forums such as the Australia Citizens’ Parliament (ACP) have the potential to engender personal transformation, group learning, and social and political change, but that potential is realized only if participants actually deliberate. More precisely, deliberation does not work (and, in fact, is not really...

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PART III: The Flow of Beliefs and Ideas

...Whereas part II explored the nature of deliberative activity, the chapters in part III focus on the evolving content of deliberation. The ACP aimed to prioritize a set of proposals for improving the Australian political system, and these chapters assess the degree to which the CPs got that job done. In chapter 10, “Changing Orientations Toward Australian Democracy...

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Chapter 10: Changing Orientations Toward Australian Democracy

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pp. 133-145

...The Australian Citizens’ Parliament (ACP) addressed a single broad issue— the nation’s political system. How did participation in this unique event infl uence participants’ orientations toward that system? We begin by describing our approach to measuring attitude change— involving an extended version of Q methodology. We then identify the basic orientations that Australians have toward politics and examine...

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Chapter 11: Staying Focused: Tracing the fFow of Ideas from the Online Parliament to Canberra

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pp. 146-160

...The deliberation process began in late 2008 with the Online Parliament (OP), which chapter 3 describes in more detail. The hundreds of participants in the OP divided into groups that generated eleven discrete proposals that then primed the face-to-face deliberations held in Canberra in February 2009. The Canberra face-to-face deliberations (hereafter...

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Chapter 12: Evidence of Peer Influence in the Citizens’ Parliament

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pp. 161-174

...Deliberative democratic theory presumes that people infl uence one another through interaction. To move to the more nuanced questions addressed throughout this book, scholars generally take that presumption for granted. But the necessary assumptions underlying much of the work on deliberative democracy must, at some point, themselves be scrutinized, lest...

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PART IV: Facilitation and Organizer Effects

...Well-structured deliberative processes involve considerable design and coordination, and the ACP relied extensively on a team of professional event organizers and process facilitators. The chapters in this section take a more interpretive approach to understand the infl uence that facilitators, plenary-session speakers, and key pieces of information had on the ACP...

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Chapter 13: The Unsung Heroes of a Deliberative Process: Reflections on the Role of Facilitators at the Citizens’ Parliament

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pp. 177-189

...Facilitation is regularly explained in group-dynamic training sessions and guidebooks, but for experienced practitioners it is often as much an art as a craft. It is one thing to know what a facilitator should do, that is, remain independent while balancing equally important elements: the group process, the task at hand, and the individuals involved. However...

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Chapter 14: Are They Doing What They Are Supposed to Do?: Assessing the Facilitating Process of the Australian Citizens’ Parliament

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pp. 190-203

...Facilitators help frame the issues being discussed, set ground rules for the discussion, encourage equity and respect, and help groups analyze issues and make decisions. In short, it is assumed that facilitators are an important part of what makes public-participation events deliberative...

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Chapter 15: Supporting the Citizen Parliamentarians: Mobilizing Perspectives and Informing DiscussionI

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pp. 204-217

...From its inception, the organizers of the Australian Citizens’ Parliament (ACP) were conscious of the need to support participants as they explored a complex subject, but in ways that responded to their expressed needs. This was the essence of the project: to analyze the capacity of ordinary citizens to consider a many-sided issue. Too much direction, denying the...

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Chapter 16: Investigation of (and Introspection on) Organizer Bias

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pp. 218-232

...Writings on deliberative democracy usually attribute “bias” to poor population sampling, inappropriate framing of the topic being deliberated, or the omission of important perspectives within expert panels or background information...

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PART V: Impacts and Reflections

...The value of large-scale deliberative events like the ACP depends partly on their longer-term impacts, beyond the more narrow purpose of prioritizing reforms to the Australian political process. Did the ACP change its participants, popular opinion, public officials, or the prospects for a more deliberative...

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Chapter 17: Participant Accounts of Political Transformation

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pp. 235-247

...Political theorist Mark Warren once asked whether participation in democracy can make us “better” citizens. His “self-transformation thesis” pulled together writings by philosophers from John Stuart Mill and Jean-Jacques Rousseau to modern theorists such as Carole Pateman and Benjamin Barber...

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Chapter 18: Becoming Australian: Forging a National Identity Through Deliberation

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pp. 248-259

...One of the unexpected outcomes of the ACP was the emergence of a robust sense of shared identity among the deliberators. Research has shown Australians to be ambivalent about their national identity, making the spontaneous emergence of a common sense of identity unlikely in an Australian setting...

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Chapter 19: Mediated Meta-Deliberation: Making Sense of the Australian Citizens’ Parliament

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pp. 260-283

...Most of the chapters in this volume look inside the Australian Citizens’ Parliament (ACP) to study the practical and political challenges of deliberating together in an assembly of ordinary citizens. However, the ACP also created the possibility for a kind of deliberation that can occur only through...

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Chapter 20: How NOT to Introduce Deliberative Democracy: The 2010 Sitizens’ Assembly on Climate Change Proposal

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pp. 284-288

...During the 2010 federal election campaign in Australia, climate change surfaced as a major issue. Prime Minister Julia Gillard announced a Citizens’ Assembly on Climate Change (CACC) involving 150 randomly selected citizens. Those of us who had worked on the Australian Citizens’ Parliament (ACP) one year earlier wondered whether this could be the moment in history...

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Conclusion: Theoretical and Practical Implications of the Citizens’ Parliament Experience

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pp. 289-300

...It was evident from the outset that nothing would go as planned for the Australian Citizens’ Parliament (ACP). When more than a third of those who received an invitation to participate rushed to their phones and computers to accept, the organizers knew the experience would be an exciting challenge for all. In the end, the ACP proved to be an important case study through...

List of Contributors

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pp. 301-306


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pp. 307-314

Other Works in the Series, Back Cover

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pp. 332-333

E-ISBN-13: 9780271060934
Print-ISBN-13: 9780271060125
Print-ISBN-10: 0271060123

Page Count: 256
Publication Year: 2013

Series Title: Rhetoric and Democratic Deliberation