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How to Make Deliberative Democracy Practical: Consulting the Public Thoughtfully

Wednesday 30 June 2010, 6.00pm, followed by drinks reception British Academy, 10 Carlton House Terrace, London SW1Y 5AH

Wednesday 30 June 2010, 6.00pm, followed by drinks reception

British Academy, 10 Carlton House Terrace, London SW1Y 5AH

Speaker: Professor James S. Fishkin

Transcript of lecture
Disclaimer: This transcript was created from a recording of the event and is edited to reflect speaking style.

In a democracy there are strong reasons to consult the public. But conventional polling only reflects the public’s impressions of sound bites and headlines on complex policy issues. Open meetings or self selected internet consultations are easily dominated by organized groups or intense interests. Focus groups are too small to be representative.

This talk tells the story of a distinctive way of consulting the public—Deliberative Polling—which has been employed in sixteen countries. It represents what the public would think when it is thinking and focused on an issue. It has been used to bring wind power to Texas, to solve a budget crisis in Rome, to provide sewage treatment and other infrastructure in China, to deal with educational choices in Northern Ireland and to deal with ethnic differences in Bulgaria.

Fishkin discussed these and other cases as well as the general issue of how best to consult the public. The talk drew from his recently published book When the People Speak: Deliberative Democracy and Public Consultation (Oxford University Press).

About the Speaker

James S. Fishkin holds the Janet M. Peck Chair in International Communication at Stanford University where he is Professor of Communication and Professor of Political Science. He is also Director of Stanford's Center for Deliberative Democracy and Chair of the Department of Communication.

He is the author of a number of books including Democracy and Deliberation: New Directions for Democratic Reform (1991), The Dialogue of Justice (1992 ), The Voice of the People: Public Opinion and Democracy (1995). With Bruce Ackerman he is co-author of Deliberation Day(Yale Press, 2004). His most recent book When the People Speak: Deliberative Democracy and Public Consultation was published by Oxford University Press in autumn 2009.

The Event

Professor Fishkin's lecture marks the beginning of the British Academy Policy Centre's project New Paradigms in Public Policy.

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