The rhetoric of dialogue 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 communication. How can dialogue be conceptualized and distinguished from other forms of communication? On what assumptions is it based? How is communication understood? What does it take to facilitate it? What kinds of processes make it possible? What ideas about democracy underpin it? What kind of changes in academic and policy-making cultures does it call for?
This monograph seeks to speak to people involved in creating public forums for meaningful conversations. In particular, I have taken as imaginary readers those practitioners and students that I have 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 communication helps us to interrogate our public engagement work, the role our research institutions should play in society, and the ways in which we can develop collective capacity to deal with complex problems.
If you prefer a hard copy, you may buy it from the Beltane Public Engagement Network.
Feedback from readers
“I enjoyed your Edinburgh Beltane report on Public Dialogue and Deliberation. I was just trying to get my head into theories of dialogue and it was such a beautifully written, clear and engaging overview. I’m sure that paper’s going to be helpful for a lot of people.” Jo Maybin, Health Policy Fellow, The King’s Fund, London
“I’ve read your profound but easy to read report on dialogue. I highly appreciate your great effort to explain what dialogue is and what it is not. To my mind your paper fulfils both the criteria of an academic study and a practical manual. I know that it is a very tricky thing to do! Your paper is a manual at least for the practitioner asking many “why” questions. At first I thought that it might take the mindset of a scholar to read the paper thoroughly. I soon found out that this is not the case because of the clear language and … non-linear structure with summarising “boxes” of text and other clarifications -you can get a good idea of the issues by picking up the essentials for you. This study is really needed to bridge the gap between scholars and practitioners!” Antti Leskinen, Head of Local Democracy Unit, Tampere, Finland
“Your manuscript was a huge hit with my students and super useful!” Margaret Stout, Public Administration, West Virginia University
“I really enjoyed reading this booklet. I was able to download the free PDF and really get into it… This spoke a lot to me because everyone is a strategic communicator at some point and I believe that if they are able to read this booklet they will see how important it is. Thank you for this reading.” Brett Henderson, Communications Graduate Student, Drury University