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Ulrike Klinger, Uta Russmann: Online Deliberation in Local Politics. An empirical analysis of the Zurich Online Debate of 2011


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Ulrike Klinger, Uta Russmann: Online Deliberation in Local Politics. An empirical analysis of the Zurich Online Debate of 2011

  1. 1. IPMZ – Institut für Publizistikwissenschaft und MedienforschungDr. Ulrike KlingerIPMZ - Institute for Mass Communication and Media Research,Abteilung «Media & Politics», University of ZurichFH-Prof. Mag. Dr. Uta RußmannEndowed Professorship for Strategic Communication Management & New Media,FHWien University of Applied Sciences of WKWAn empirical analysis of theZurich Online Debate of 2011CeDEM13, 22./23. May 2013, Danube University Krems
  2. 2. ObjectivesExamining online deliberation in local politics• Administrations increasingly use the internet to improvecitizens’ participation in political processes.• Online communication is expected to deliver a moreinclusive, richer and more dialogue-oriented form ofpolitical representation.• Possibility to strengthen the legitimacy of democraticdecision-making.• Specific quality of public online communication?Seite 2
  3. 3. Zurich City Debate 2011Zurich City Debate• September, 15-17 2011• «heart rate monitor»w/out representativeclaim• open, self-selectedparticipation (Karlsson2012)• 1‘246 participants(unique logins)• 3954 visits• 1‘991 postings (N)Source: Data Report, 200 400 600 800Live TogetherBordersConstructionsTraffic2000 WattAmounts of postings in thematic fora
  4. 4. Research QuestionWhether and to what extent do participants followthe principles of a quality of understanding in thefive analysed online deliberation fora?Seite 4
  5. 5. Measuring deliberation: IQUIndicators of a Quality of Understanding• generalised statement of reasons• simple statement of reasons• specific statement of reasonsBrosda (2008), Gerhards et al. (1998), Kuhlmann (1999),Meyer/Schicha/Brosda (2001), Saxer/Tschopp (1995),Steenbergen et al. (2003), Spörndli (2004)• partial proposals of solutions• precise proposals of solutionsSteenbergen et al. (2003)• disrespectful expressions• respectful expressions• explicitly respectful expressionsGerhards et al. (1998), Steenbergen et al. (2003)(Type of) Doubts• Intelligibility• Truth• Truthfulness• LegitimacyHabermas (1984)Index of a Quality of Understanding (IQU)Source: Burkart/Rußmann 2010; adapted version• monologue• initiation• responseKies (2010)
  6. 6. IQU: OperationalizationSeite 6Variable LevelV10/11/12 –level of statement ofreasons0 - no statement of reasons1 - generalised statement of reasons2 - simple statement of reasons3 - specific statement of reasonsV13/14/15 –level of proposals ofsolutions0 - no proposals of solutions1 - partial proposals of solutions2 - precise proposals of solutionsV16/17/18 –level of respect0 - disrespectful expressions3 - respectful expressions4 - explicitly respectful expressionsV19/20/21 –types of doubts1 - Intelligibility1 - Truth1 - Truthfulness1 - LegitimacyV23 –reciprocity1 - monologue2 - initiation2 - response
  7. 7. Results: IQU Online for the five discussion fora0102030405060708090100
  8. 8. Conclusion & DiscussionQuality of Understanding: Differences between the five fora are small.Statement of reasons: Participants hardy justified their positions withspecific arguments.Proposals of Solutions: Participants tended to voice simple ideaswithout any specifications on implementation or time frame. Mostly lay people participated in the forum, i.e. they had little expertknowledge on formal implementation procedures or the status ofpublic projects.Respect: Only a few postings contained disrespectful expressions. The debate was moderated and all participants had to register withtheir full names, which also appeared in the debate. None of the1991 postings had to be cautioned or censored by the moderators.Seite 8
  9. 9. Conclusion & DiscussionDoubts: The share of the sub-index doubts in IQU Online is the smallestof all the sub-indices & the level of doubts varies significantly among thethematic sub-fora. Discussing the borders of Zurich, participants voiced almost twice asmany doubts as they did when debating traffic policies. Zurich’sgrowth is a topic with conflict and polarisation potential: as the citygrowth rapidly, conflicts with neighbouring municipalities areincreasing.Reciprocity: Although most postings do not refer to a previous postingor start a new discussion, the data show that in three sub-fora, theonline political discourse is based on interaction between participants.Seite 9
  10. 10. Discussion• Remaining question: Do these results suggest low deliberationlevels? Where are the thresholds between low, medium or highdeliberation? Future research is needed to have comparable data.• With deliberation being an inherently normative concept, it is alsodebatable how much deliberation can be realistically expected. Future research is needed to find out whether deliberation needs aspark of conflict, a topic that polarises and challenges participantsinto reasoning.Seite 10
  11. 11. Thank you!Seite 11
  12. 12. LiteraturBrosda, C. (2008). Diskursiver Journalismus. Journalistisches Handeln zwischen kommunikativer Vernunftund mediensystemischem Zwang. Wiesbaden: VS-Verlag.Burkart, R. & Rußmann, U. (2010). Qualität des öffentlichen politischen Diskurses in der österreichischenWahlkampfkommunikation. Codebuch: Codieranweisungen und Codierschema (FWF-Projekt 21147-G14).Wien: Universität Wien.Gerhards, J., Neidhardt, F., & Rucht, D. (1998). Zwischen Palaver und Diskurs: Strukturen öffentlicherMeinungsbildung am Beispiel des Abtreibungsdiskurses in der Bundesrepublik. Opladen: WestdeutscherVerlag.Habermas, J. (1984). The Theory of Communicative Action Vol. 1. Reason and the Rationalization of Socie-ty. Boston: Beacon Press.Kies, R. (2010). Promises and Limits of Web-Deliberation. New York, NY: Palgrave Macmillan.Kuhlmann, C. (1999). Die öffentliche Begründung politischen Handelns. Opladen/Wiesbaden: WestdeutscherVerlag.Meyer, T., Schicha, C., & Brosda, C. (2001). Diskurs-Inszenierungen, Zur Struktur politischerVermittlungsprozes-se am Beispiel der Debatte zur Ökologischen Steuerreform. Wiesbaden: WestdeutscherVerlag.Saxer, U. & Tschopp, C. (1995). Politik und Medienrealität: Die schweizerische Presse zur Abstimmung überden EWR. Zürich: Seminar für Publizisitkwissenschaft.Spörndli, M. (2004). Diskurs und Entscheidung. Eine empirische Analyse kommunikativen Handelns imdeutschen Vermittlungsausschuss. Wiesbaden: VS-Verlag.Steenbergen, M. R., Bächtiger, A., Spörndli, M., & Steiner, J. (2003). Measuring Political Delibera-tion: ADiscourse Quality Index. Comparative European Politics, 1, 21-48. doi:10.1057/palgrave.cep.6110002Seite 12