In the Eyes of Beholders: Rethinking the Impact of Deliberative Mini-Publics

Lucy J. Parry, Selen A. Ercan

Research output: A Conference proceeding or a Chapter in BookChapterpeer-review


Deliberative processes are on the rise in contemporary democracies (OECD
2020). A large proportion of these fall into the category of deliberative
mini-publics (DMPs), defined as ‘carefully defined forums where a representative subset of the wider population come together to engage in open,
inclusive, informed and consequential discussion on one or more issues’
(Curato et al. 2021: 3). Theoretical and empirical debates chart a number of
expected impacts resulting from DMPs, including: clarifying the preferences
of ordinary people; enhancing the legitimacy of collective decisions; breaking
political deadlock on controversial policy issues; fostering deliberation in the
public sphere; and providing epistemically and/or normatively better democratic decisions (Curato et al. 2021; Dryzek et al. 2019; Suiter 2018; Fishkin
2018). While such positive impacts and outcomes offer good reasons to
celebrate DMPs, they also invite us to reflect on how we understand and talk
about the impact of DMPs. In this context, one particular concern relates to
the fact that we mainly focus on and report about the impact of best practices
or what Smith et al. call ‘cause celebre’ cases (Smith et al. 2015: 244).
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Impacts of Democratic Innovations
EditorsVincent Jacquet, Matt Ryan, Ramon van der Does
Place of PublicationUnited Kingdom
PublisherEuropean Consortium for Political Research
Number of pages21
ISBN (Print)9781910259177
Publication statusPublished - 31 Dec 2023

Publication series

Name Studies in European Political Science


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