By Oliver Escobar, with photos from Emilio Pérez.Published by Edinburgh Beltane (UK Beacons for Public Engagement).Free PDF HERE.
The rhetoric of dialogue and deliberation is sometimes adopted rather uncritically in academic, organisational, and policy circles. Too often that rhetoric is deployed with little understanding of the variety of principles and practices enacted in dialogic and/or deliberative communication. How can dialogue and deliberation be conceptualized and distinguished from other forms of communication? What does it take to facilitate these forms of communication in practice? What ideas about democracy underpin them? What kind of changes in academic, popular and policy-making cultures does it call for?
This booklet seeks to speak to people involved in creating public forums for meaningful conversations. In particular, I’ve taken as imaginary readers those practitioners and students that I’ve had the fortune to work with. If, with pragmatist and deliberative thinkers, we agree that communication is the very fabric of democratic life, then analysing and improving the quality of communication in the public sphere becomes critical. Understanding dialogic and deliberative communication helps us to interrogate and improve our public engagement work, and the ways in which we can develop collective capacity to deal with complex public issues.