Conference Publication Details
Mandatory Fields
Liston V.;Harris C.;O'toole M.;Lee D.
Proceedings of the European Conference on e-Government, ECEG
Evolving substantive notions of representation: The SOWIT deliberation model
Optional Fields
Discursive representation e-deliberation Meta-consensus Semantic web
Recent deliberative innovations, such as citizen assemblies, have shown the potential for the evolution of political systems beyond preference aggregation mechanisms towards preference transformation processes among citizens. Their potential for increasing citizen trust and satisfaction in the representative system is reflected in the growing body of deliberative experiments worldwide. Yet, while such innovations show promise they face challenges of scale. Furthermore, most are episodic and with a direct effect on policy making in only a limited number of cases. Developments in the participative web have led to new opportunities for public engagement that offer the potential to scale up deliberations and overcome some of these limitations. However, the normative democratic design of an online deliberative forum remains a challenge with respect to issues of political and representative legitimacy. Important questions are 1) How can issues of scale be overcome to enable a full citizenry to be part of deliberative processes on policy issues; 2) How could meaningful output be achieved and; 3) On what basis can these deliberations be considered inclusive and representative? In this paper we address these questions by suggesting how an online deliberative forum should proceed based on innovations in normative democratic theory. To this end we present the design for an e-deliberation model that is integrated to local authority policy decision processes. The model, entitled SOWIT1, implements John Dryzek's recent concepts of discursive representation and meta-consensus which supports a broader notion of representation particularly suited the cross-boundary political engagement of citizens online (Dryzek and Niemeyer, 2008; Dryzek, 2010). We argue how structuring deliberations using a discourse framework and metaconsensus procedures can address challenges of bias, group polarization and self-selection patterns which pose a challenge to the use of social media for legislative purposes. The contribution of this paper is providing the theoretical justification for a method in which inclusive citizen e-deliberations could be institutionalised into legislation processes.
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