IGPA Research Seminar Series

Deliberation and Anti-Politics

Thu 3 March 2016Professor Will Jennings and Dr Brenton Prosser / 3.30pm - 5.00pmSeminar Room 1, Building 24 at the University of Canberra

ABOUT: Political alienation continues to be the pressing issue for contemporary democracies. Deliberative innovations are often put forward as solutions for engaging citizens in politics and enhancing the legitimacy of political decision-making. But there is limited evidence concerning the transformative impact of such exercises on citizens. This paper undertakes a novel empirical study, considering how the negativity towards politics/politicians of individuals who participated in two citizens’ assemblies, held in the North and South of England, are influenced by engagement in collective processes of learning, deliberation and decision-making. This uses data on attitudes towards politics and politicians from a pre-event survey of people in each region, and survey data collected during the citizens’ assemblies. The analysis first tests how attitudes of citizens who participate in deliberative exercises differ from the general population. It then considers how attitudes across a range of measures of political efficacy and discontentment are affected by participation in the deliberative process. The design of the assemblies enables a natural experiment, with Assembly North being constituted as a pure citizen-led assembly and Assembly South consisting of two-thirds citizens and one-third elected politicians. Does deliberation ameliorate (or exacerbate) political disaffection, and does the presence of politicians mediate or moderate this process? 


SPEAKERS: Will Jennings is Professor of Political Science and Public Policy at the University of Southampton. His research is concerned with questions relating to public policy and political behaviour. He has written extensively on agenda-setting, public opinion, electoral behaviour, political parties, and the governance of mega-projects and mega-events.

Brenton Prosser is part of the team leading the Democracy Matters citizen assembly pilots in the Crick Centre at the University of Sheffield. He is an expert on minority government and public policy in Australia. His experience outside of academia includes a time as Chief of Staff to a ‘balance of power’ Senator during the global financial crisis, and as Director for multi-level governance within the Federal Attorney-General’s department. His main research interests include the impact of minority government on public policy and the sociological/policy analysis of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). His academic experience also includes project leadership of Australia-wide evaluation of aged care service delivery policy.


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