Did They Deliberate? Applying an Evaluative Model of Democratic Deliberation to the Oregon Citizens' Initiative Review

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Abstract:

As deliberative forums proliferate, scholars and practitioners need to establish a shared evaluative framework grounded in a theoretical definition of deliberation, applicable across contexts, and capable of yielding results comprehensible to public officials and key stakeholders. We present such a framework and illustrate its utility by evaluating the Oregon Citizens' Initiative Review (CIR), a public event that serves as both a critical case study and an important practical innovation in its own right. Our analysis shows that the CIR met a reasonable standard for democratic deliberation, and we pinpoint CIR features that both aided and detracted from its overall quality. We also show how we summarized these results to communicate our evaluation efficiently to the Oregon State Legislature. We conclude by making recommendations for future applications of our theoretical model and evaluative framework and offer practical suggestions for future deliberative forums.
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