Online vs. Face-to-Face Deliberation on the Global Warming and Stem Cell Issues
39 Pages Posted: 29 Mar 2010 Last revised: 18 Apr 2013
Deliberation serves an important function in democracies. It enables citizens to become more informed and knowledgeable about political and social issues, as well as to have the opportunity to consider other viewpoints and learn how others view important issues. Online deliberation is a relatively new phenomenon that allows people to discuss political issues with others of widely differing backgrounds and locations. Some studies have examined the attributes of those who participate in online deliberations, but little has been done to compare the quality of discussion between online and face-to-face deliberation. Through an experiment, I explore the differences and similarities between deliberation occurring online and in-person. The motivating questions include whether online deliberation can be as successful as the more traditional face-to-face deliberation and under what conditions? Does online deliberation work better when participants are online at the same time (synchronous deliberation) or when they can post messages on their own time in a message forum (asynchronous deliberation)? Do people deliberate better online when their real names are used or when their identity remains anonymous? Do certain types of issues lend themselves to better deliberation than others? Does personal experience and media information enter equally into the discussion? Both the content of the deliberations and the results from post-deliberation surveys will be examined and analyzed.
Keywords: deliberation, online, face-to-face, experiment, synchronous, asynchronous, anonymity
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