Tuesday, June 27, 2006

The Effects of Deliberation

Via Legal Theory Blog I see that David Schkade , Cass Sunstein and Reid Hastie have posted a new article on SSRN entitled "What Happened on Deliberation Day?". The abstract of the paper is as follows:

What are the effects of deliberation about political issues? This essay reports the results of a kind of Deliberation Day, involving sixty-three citizens in Colorado. Groups from Boulder, a predominantly liberal city, met and discussed global warming, affirmative action, and civil unions for same-sex couples; groups from Colorado Springs, a predominately conservative city, met to discuss the same issues. The major effect of deliberation was to make group members more extreme than they were when they started to talk. Liberals became more liberal on all three issues; conservatives became more conservative. As a result, the division between the citizens of Boulder and the citizens of Colorado Springs were significantly increased as a result of intragroup deliberation. Deliberation also increased consensus, and dampened diversity, within the groups. Implications are explored for the uses and structure of deliberation in general.

I haven't had a chance to read the article yet but it should have important implications for democratic theory. Recall my previous posts on group polarization and deliberative democracy. Deliberative democrats must take empirical considerations seriously. So this new paper by Schkade , Sunstein and Hastie is a must read.