In this chapter we show how a new type of political knowledge can be
harnessed from everyday communication flows between citizens to
support community and policy development processes. The emergence of
this new knowledge will be enabled by an e-supported deliberation process
(SOWIT) that aims to improve political communication and deliberation
between citizens, civil society organisations, local councils and councillors.
To explain the SOWIT project and its innovative approach to political
engagement we first outline its motivation with respect to political reform in
Ireland. We then discuss the modelís framework and features in functional
terms. The core innovations are rooted in SOWITís foundation in the fields
of Q-methodology, discursive representation and meta-consensus theory.
Finally, we explain how the model departs from the epistemic norms of
current political paradigms particularly with respect to public opinion and
random selection as a basis for representativeness in deliberative fora.
SOWIT is currently being developed as a pilot in collaboration with Fingal
County Council in Dublin.