Professor in Political Science and Computer and Information Science

David Lazer

Who Wants To Deliberate—And Why?

Journal Article
Publication date: 
Kevin Esterling
Michael Neblo
David Lazer
Anand E. Sokhey
Ryan P. Kennedy
Who Wants To Deliberate—And Why?

Interest in deliberative theories of democracy has grown tremendously among political theorists, political scientists, activists, and even government officials. Many scholars, however, are skeptical that it is a practically viable theory, even on its own terms. They argue (inter alia) that most people dislike politics and that deliberative initiatives would amount to a paternalistic imposition.

Using two large national samples investigating people’s hypothetical willingness to deliberate and their actual participation in response to a real invitation to deliberate with their member of Congress, we find that (1) willingness to deliberate in the United States is much more widespread than expected, and (2) it is precisely those people less likely to participate in traditional partisan politics who are most interested in deliberative participation. They are attracted to such participation as a partial alternative to “politics as usual.”

Awarded Heinz Eulau award for best paper in the APSR in 2010.

Bibliographical Information: 
M. Neblo, K. Esterling, R. Kennedy, D. Lazer, and A. Sokhey, “Who wants to deliberate— and Why,” American Political Science Review 104(3), 2010: 566-583.