Deliberation and civic virtue: lessons from a citizen deliberation experiment

Kimmo Grönlund, Maija Setälä, Kaisa Herne

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    This article analyzes whether democratic deliberation enhances ‘civic virtues’ such as political knowledge, efficacy, trust, and preparedness for political and other collective action. The empirical analysis is based on an experiment held in November 2006 in Finland. The topic of this citizen deliberation experiment was nuclear power. Two treatments were enforced; half of the small groups made a decision through secret ballot, whereas the other half formulated a common statement. Even though both treatments were designed to be ‘deliberative’ with discussion rules and moderators, the common statement procedure was expected to lead to more thorough deliberation. Therefore, we anticipate more increase in civic virtues in the common statement treatment. Based on the empirical analyses, this expectation is partially confirmed. Most notably, the participants’ knowledge of energy-related issues increased more in the common statement treatment, but also the increase of political trust and readiness for collective action shows a similar pattern. Finally, deliberation did not increase the participants’ overall preparedness to act politically, but did not decrease it either.

    Original languageUndefined/Unknown
    Pages (from-to)95–117
    JournalEuropean Political Science Review
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 2010
    MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


    • experiment
    • Deliberative democracy
    • Deliberation
    • experimental design

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