Deliberative democracy and citizens' assemblies with Ian O'Flynn


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What most people think of when they hear deliberative democracy probably are citizens’ assemblies. Deliberation is the process of thoughtfully discussing a specific topic, weighing different options, and using logic and reason to form opinions within a group, that then may lead to a decision or consensus.

With Ian O’Flynn, I discuss various forms of deliberative democracy, from parliaments, to deliberative polls, to citizens’ juries, and the most well-known the citizens’ assemblies. Modern concepts of deliberative democracy have been developed by political scientists, best summarized as mini-publics. The most common characteristic of mini-publics is that participants are selected based on sortition, that is a random selection of people from the entire population. The randomly selected people then come together to deliberate and possibly make recommendations to the government.

Ian has conducted extensive research both on deliberative and participatory democracy. He explains the various challenges and opportunities of mini-publics and how they can fit in the wider context of democracy. Mini-publics may likely further develop as an institution of modern democracies, complementing representative and direct democracy.

Ian O’Flynn is Senior Lecturer in Political Theory at Newcastle University. He holds a PhD from Queen's University in Belfast. His main research interests are in deliberative democracy, but he also works on compromise, power sharing and referendums. He has written several books, the most recent ones titled Deliberative Democracy and Deliberative Peace Referendums. I link to his website and to his Twitter account in the show notes.

Schedule: 0:00 Introduction / 3:25 Personal questions / 8:50 Main discussion of deliberative democracy and citizens' assemblies / 54:42 Ian O'Flynn's recommendations of resources on deliberative democracy

Show notes with a full transcript and links to all material discussed:

Find more information about Ian O'Flynn's research here:

Follow Ian O'Flynn on Twitter:

Please enjoy this wider ranging conversation with Ian O'Flynn.

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