Edited by Gemma M Carney and Clodagh Harris (co-convenors of the Participatory and Deliberative Democracy Specialist Group of the Political Studies Association of Ireland).
This review was compiled by Aoife Crummy, NUI Galway. Posted by Jane Suiter
This e-book emerges from a symposium, ‘Beyond the Ballot: diverse forms of civic engagement between democratic elections,’ held in Dublin in March 2012. Funded by the ‘New Ideas Grant’ from the Irish Research Council for the Humanities and Social Sciences and the PSAI, the e-book is a collection of short versions of the papers which were presented at the symposium.
In the opening chapter, learning to deliberate, by Jürg Steiner deliberation is rooted within good democratic practice in the home, and within a classroom setting. Steiner proposes that in the classroom, children should learn to listen to each other, justify and form arguments, while also being open to new arguments. Steiner’s paper elucidates how the implementation of such skills can lead to a better understanding of deliberation, thus leading to a more sophisticated and confident approach to civic participation in adulthood.
The G1000 summit in Belgium 2011 and the We the Citizens, pilot assembly are key examples within the e-book of how civic engagement and participation from various walks of life can induce not only a better understanding of political orientation but can also impact the development of policies. Such experiences have inspired new national deliberative initiatives for strengthening citizens’voices in the run-up to elections in Belgium, Oct 2012. Likewise, Farrell, O’Malley and Suiter’s (2012) paper on the ‘We The Citizens’ polling experiment demonstrates the capacity of citizens to make hard decisions, thereby casting doubts on Mair’s (2010) contention that deliberation will not work in an Irish context. Mary P. Murphy offers an open and honest account of building ‘Claiming Our Future’ as a movement to reaffirm the citizen’s voice in broad-based social and economic reform. The paper by McInerney and Carney argues that the practicalities of making deliberation count is still contested (Saurugger 2010), arguing that such disparities are evident within the Hunt Report (2010). Although the report envisages the university’s role in the educating for civic engagement, in reality it is more often evidenced in ‘pockets’ of university life.
The papers in this e-book successfully demonstrate the importance and need for participation and deliberation in democratic reform. Through these experiments it has become evident that sophisticated forms of deliberation can be developed not only in universities, but also within the roots of primary school education. Citizen events such as the G1000 and We the Citizens pilot Assembly display encouraging levels of civic engagement and deliberative participation. The editors hope that documenting these experiments in an open access publication may inspire similar summits and further deliberations in future.
The e-book can be downloaded at :
Mair, P. (2010). ‘Paradoxes and problems of modern Irish politics,’ paper presented to McGill Summer School: Reforming the Republic, July 2010.
Saurugger,S.(2010). The Social Construction of the participatory turn: The Emergence of a norm in the European Union. The European Journal of Political Research. 49, 471-495.