This Research Note introduces a range of ‘mini-publics’ and outlines key features, how they work, and how they may improve opportunities for citizens to contribute to public deliberation and participatory governance.
The idea of mini-publics was first proposed four decades ago by political scientist Robert Dahl. Inspired by democratic ideals and social science principles, Dahl envisioned an innovative mechanism for involving citizens in dealing with public issues. He called it ‘minipopulus’: an assembly of citizens, demographically representative of the larger population, brought together to learn and deliberate on a topic in order to inform public opinion and decision-making. A growing number of democratic innovations have flourished around the world based on this idea, from Citizens’ Juries, to Planning Cells, Consensus Conferences, Deliberative Polls and Citizens’ Assemblies. Mini-publics have been used to deal with topics ranging from constitutional and electoral reform, to controversial science and technology, and myriad social issues (e.g. health, justice, planning, sectarianism).
The paper includes answers to frequently asked questions about mini-publics. You can also see more examples and resources on the What Works Scotland website.
On 26 October 2016, the independent Commission on Parliamentary Reform was established by the Presiding Officer to look at how the Scottish Parliament can engage better with the people of Scotland and how its work can be improved to deliver better scrutiny.
These are some notes I’ve made to guide my input to the Commission’s evidence session on 25th November 2016. They outline ideas, questions and arguments to inform democratic innovation at the Scottish Parliament.
Click here so see more information about the Commission, how it works and how to contribute.
Photo by Milin
In this project, the focus of the Citizens’ Juries discussions will be health inequalities and potential policy responses to these inequalities. We are organising three Citizens’ Juries in Summer 2016, one in Glasgow, one in Liverpool and one in Manchester. Each jury will last two days and will take place in July 2016.
For more information about the project please see our website where we will also post findings and publications in due course.
Making Conversations Count
24th and 25th March 2014
This is the 16th time that Wendy Faulkner and I deliver this course for the Beltane Network. The focus is on public engagement practice in research and policy contexts, with particular attention to dialogue, deliberation and facilitation skills.
The course is very hands-on, using several techniques and providing many opportunities to practice. It’s also a great chance to meet people from various fields, and who are interested in how dialogic communication can make a difference.
We hope you may join us!
By Oliver Escobar, with photos from Emilio Pérez.Published by Edinburgh Beltane (UK Beacons for Public Engagement).Free PDF HERE.
The rhetoric of dialogue is sometimes adopted rather uncritically in academic, organizational, 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 booklet 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.
Thursday 28 February 2013, 10am-5pm, Glasgow
The registration for potential participants is now open: http://bit.ly/WMPo3v
Please note that registration does not guarantee a place, as we will be selecting participants in order to reflect Scotland’s demographics.
We are gathering together 192 folk to spend a day in facilitated dialogue. Thinking, in a new way, about the future. Selecting participants to reflect Scotland’s diversity. Discussing our values along with what purpose and vision we feel is important for the Future of Scotland.
People work in groups, thinking together. Facilitators hold the space to make sure everyone has a say. Priorities from our morning session focus our afternoon. We consider how we can create a society where what we care about is brought to life in the way we live, work and play.
Connecting with the lived experience of citizens, harnessing the inherent wisdom of folk. Building on the wealth of work underway. Engaging people in meaningful participation, crafting a future fit to face the challenges of our century.
Inspired and supported by the assembly movement in Iceland, this unique event is coming together in a tight timescale, on minimum resources. We welcome support from people and organisations to make Thinking Together the best possible success on the day.
‘Thinking Together’ A Citizens Assembly hosted by So Say Scotland in partnership with Future of Scotland, SCVO, Church of Scotland, Electoral Reform Society, Academy of Government and others.
Find out more and join So Say Scotland: www.sosayscotland.org