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Politics and International Relations (PIR): News


A more deliberative society: what is it and how do we get one?

Academy of Government event on Wednesday 8 April 5.10pm

For many years now, public agencies, academics and think tanks have been experimenting with ways of directly involving citizens in policy making that cuts through partisan politics as usual. The efforts have largely focused on what are often called ‘deliberative minipublics’ – small, representative groups of citizens gathered to hear proposals and evidence on a public issue and make recommendations on a way forward.

Now, scholars are starting to think about how such democratic deliberation can work at the large scale. Could a city deliberate together? Could a nation? Could people deliberate across national boundaries and start holding governments to account in new ways? And what would have to happen to our democracies to make that happen?

Professor John Parkinson will argue that a more deliberative democracy is both easily designed, but harder achieved. With examples from Australia, Canada, Brazil – and the Scottish independence debates – he will show how a small number of changes to our current system could add up to big changes in the inclusivity and reasonableness of public debate. But he will also set out the political challenges to make those changes.

Professor Parkinson is one of the developers of the ‘deliberative systems approach’ in democracy studies. His last book, Deliberative Systems, was edited with Professor Jane Mansbridge of Harvard University, and published by Cambridge University Press in 2012. See more information:


  • 17.10 – Registration and refreshments
  • 17.30 – Event begins
  • 19.30 – Event ends

Edinburgh Centre for Carbon Innovations
High School Yards
EH1 1LZ Edinburgh
United Kingdom

Wednesday, April 8, 2015 from 5:30 PM to 7:30 PM (BST)

Further information is available on the Academy of Government website.