Opening up the 'Black box' of deliberation
Since my collaboration in implementing two Deliberative Polls and an America Speaks event in New Haven I have been interested in opening up the 'black box' of deliberation, understanding not only the effect of the lego blocks that compose deliberative decision making processes, but also the effect of their sequence and interaction.The first lego block of real life deliberation that I investigated was the moderator.
The majority of deliberative processes employ moderators that often directly intervene in the discussion offering their opinion. My research shows that moderators that express their views in the discussion have large and significant effects on participant decisions. (“Who Moderates the Moderators? The Effect of Non-neutral Moderators in Deliberative Decision Making”). This result constitute an important cautionary tale for community driven development projects that often employ moderators from local CSOs that have their own agenda. The paper has been downloaded more than 500 times in less than one year from its publication.
The second ingredient that I am currently studying is the structure of discussion and its impact on the quality of deliberation and engagement.
My ultimate goal is to go beyond the current labels of Democratic Innovations and understand the effects of the lego blocks that compose them and their interaction so that we can better optimize the design of such innovations depending on goals and local conditions.