Can Deliberative Minipublics Influence Public Opinion? Theory and Experimental Evidence

39 Pages Posted: 22 Jun 2017 Last revised: 20 Feb 2018

See all articles by Sean Ingham

Sean Ingham

University of California, San Diego (UCSD) - Department of Political Science

Ines Levin

University of California, Irvine

Date Written: January 4, 2018

Abstract

Deliberative minipublics are small groups of citizens who deliberate together about a policy issue and convey their conclusions to decision-makers. Theorists have argued that deliberative minipublics can give observers evidence about counterfactual, 'enlightened' public opinion --- what the people would think about an issue, if they had the opportunity to deliberate with their fellow citizens. If the conclusions of a deliberative minipublic are received in this spirit and members of the public revise their opinions upon learning them, then deliberative minipublics could be a means of bringing actual public opinion into closer conformity with counterfactual, enlightened public opinion. We formalize a model of this theory and report the results of a survey experiment designed to test its predictions. The experiment produced evidence that learning the conclusions of a deliberative minipublic influenced respondents' policy opinions, bringing them into closer conformity with the opinions of the participants in the deliberative minipublic.

Suggested Citation

Ingham, Sean and Levin, Ines, Can Deliberative Minipublics Influence Public Opinion? Theory and Experimental Evidence (January 4, 2018). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2990585 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2990585

Sean Ingham (Contact Author)

University of California, San Diego (UCSD) - Department of Political Science ( email )

9500 Gilman Drive
Code 0521
La Jolla, CA 92093-0521
United States

Ines Levin

University of California, Irvine ( email )

Campus Drive
Irvine, CA 62697-3125
United States

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