Deliberative Mini-Publics: Innovating Citizens in the Democratic Process

Research output: Contribution to journalBook/Film/Article review


There was a time when mini-publics were considered the exemplar of deliberative practice. A forum composed of a diverse set of randomly selected individuals exchanging reasons to determine the best course of action is regarded as a corrective to democratic deficits in “traditional” forms of political participation. A lot has been written about the virtues of these forums—from Archon Fung’s landmark piece in 2003 which first registered the term “mini -publics” in the vocabulary of deliberative studies (Archon Fung, “Recipes for Public Spheres: Eight Institutional Design Choices and Their Consequences,” Journal of Political Philosophy 11[September 2003]: 338–367) to a series of monographs showcasing the nuts and bolts of designing, implementing and evaluating deliberative forums.
The growing interest in deliberative systems, however, places the study of mini-publics at a crossroads. Today, debates about the function of mini-publics in relation to formal institutions and the broader public sphere have started to take root, particularly in the context of sharp critiques against the legitimacy and impact of mini-publics as discrete sites of deliberation.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)859-860
Number of pages2
JournalPerspectives on Politics
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2016


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