Douglas Schuler - Deliberation that Matters

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Douglas Schuler - Deliberation that Matters

  1. 1. Deliberation that MattersRealizing the Potential for Civic Intelligence Douglas Schuler douglas@publicsphereproject.org CeDEM11 Conference for E-Democracy and Open Government Krems, Austria May 5, 2011
  2. 2. Confessions• I embrace interdisciplinary approaches (although being everywhere generally can mean being nowhere specifically).• I support work that is intended to yield social benefit -- especially based on the citizen as actor.• I want to see the work here make a difference. (Or else why do it?)• I don’t want to squander our intellectual, ethical, and material resources.
  3. 3. Why Deliberation?• We are in desperate need of good decisions and actions. Unfortunately they don’t necessarily result through hidden-hands, side-effects, or luck.• Non-deliberative approaches can be exploitive, coercive, destructive.• Deliberation can build civic capacity (hypothesis) The real question is: Why not deliberation??
  4. 4. Looking at deliberation from twoperspectives: in-the-small & in-the-large Although the two perspectives... • raise different questions and • suggest different courses of action, they • must work together if deliberation is to actually make a difference
  5. 5. Deliberation in-the-small• is the process of deliberation itself• assumes a million forms and takes place in a million places• is a type of collaboration• is purposeful• is one of humankind’s most important innovations!• can even be done by enemies!
  6. 6. Deliberation in-the-large • is the context of deliberation. It’s what happens before and after deliberation • looks at how deliberation plays out in society • depends on legitimacy, societal “access points”, and other social factorsWithout deliberation-in-the-large, deliberation-in-the-smallis impotent...
  7. 7. All of thesefactors must be present for successful deliberation.
  8. 8. Civic Intelligence • Is a type of collective intelligence that addresses shared concerns effectively and equitably • Is civic ends through civic means • Is an under-acknowledged and under-appreciated resource • It always exists yet varies over time and from place to placeAssertion: It’s what many of us are -- or should be -- working on!
  9. 9. Civic Intelligence Emergencies (The demand may exceed the supply) • Even a short list of our problems can be depressing. • The elites won’t solve these problems by themselves. • Yes we can! We are very capable of creating messes that we can’t clean up! • As demands rise worldwide and our resources (water, oil, etc.) are becoming scarce and despoiled we may be creating a “perfect storm” for ourselves. • If we don’t change directions we’ll get where we’re heading! • but emergencies = opportunities
  10. 10. Towards Deliberation in-the-large How could it realistically make a difference? • Our efforts will need to be bigger than they are. • Could deliberation spawn more deliberation? Could it go viral? • We need to build the base of useful (i.e. accessible) knowledge • Open up social science; Relax some constraints • Social entrepreneurism • e-Liberate, for example • Deliberation on !5 a Day!?
  11. 11. Challenges• Professional and well-resourced cultivators of civic ignorance (far beyond the “Loyal Opposition”)• Institutionalization of non-deliberative approaches• Inertia & temporal differentiation• Need for funding• Lack of interest in actual deliberation. Deliberation isn‘t cool!
  12. 12. Conclusions &Recommendations• Make deliberation (and civic intelligence) high priority (and explicit)• Break out of the routines; tweak the process! write manifestos!• Work together in semi-autonomous and semi- coordinated ways• Work with lots of groups -- especially across boundaries• Theorize, experiment, and act

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