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Political Communication and Deliberation

Political Communication and Deliberation

December 2007 | 344 pages | SAGE Publications, Inc

"Professor Gastil has been a leading voice in the deliberative democracy movement for the last 15 years, and with this book he has created a wonderful resource that adeptly captures the broad, valuable work being done both inside and outside academia concerning public deliberation and political communication. I hope this book will help spark a whole new generation of courses focused on this critical topic." —Martín Carcasson, Colorado State University

The act of deliberation is the act of reflecting carefully on a matter and weighing the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions to a problem. It aims to arrive at a decision or judgment based not only on facts and data but also on values, emotions, and other less technical considerations. Though a solitary individual can deliberate, it more commonly means making decisions together, as a small group, an organization, or a nation. Political Communication and Deliberation takes a unique approach to the field of political communication by viewing key concepts and research through the lens of deliberative democratic theory. This is the first text to argue that communication is central to democratic self-governance primarily because of its potential to facilitate public deliberation. Thus, it offers political communication instructors a new perspective on familiar topics, and it provides those teaching courses on political deliberation with their first central textbook. This text offers students practical theory and experience, teaching them skills and giving them a more direct understanding of the various subtopics in public communication.

Companion Web site!
A dedicated Web site at inventories everything that might be useful for instructors using Political Communication and Deliberation in their courses. Syllabi suggestions show how to use the book when teaching on a semester - or a quarter-long course, as well as a set of classroom exercises and larger projects that have been used in previous courses. Also, a wiki and forum let instructors exchange teaching ideas, links, and new content to supplement each chapter.

1. Democracy and Deliberation
Three Criteria for the Democratic Process

How Deliberation Makes Democracy Work

2. Conversation and Discussion
Historical Notes on Political Chatter

Imagining a Deliberative Conversation

Informal Conversation

Moving from Conversation to Discussion

Dialogue and Deliberation

3. Mediated Deliberation and Public Opinion
Expressing Ourselves Through the Ages

What Is Mediated Deliberation?

Do We Have a Deliberative Media System

Broadcasting (and Shaping) the Public’s Voice

Visions of a More Deliberative Media

4. Deliberative Elections
The Golden Days of Elections

A Deliberative Electoral Process and the Deliberative Voter

The Modern Electoral System

The Deliberative Voter

Deliberative Electoral Reforms

5. How Government Deliberates
A Foundational Moment in Deliberative History

What Would a Deliberative Legislature Look Like?

Legislative Deliberation

Deliberation and the Executive Branch

Judicial Deliberation

6. Deliberation in the Jury Room
Legitimacy and the Origins of the Jury System

Defining High-Quality Jury Deliberation

Jury Deliberation and Decisions

Connecting Jury Service and Civic Life

Making Juries More Deliberative

7. Citizens and Officials in Public Meetings
Archetypal Public Meetings

Convening a Deliberative Public Meeting

The Default Process: A Public Hearing

Deliberative Meetings with Elected Officials

Citizen-Centered Public Meetings

8. Deliberative Communities and Societies
Old-School Deliberation in Historic Social Movements

Visiting a Deliberative Community

Societal Analysis

Institutional Infrastructure

Actively Creating Deliberative Society

9. International Deliberation
From the League of Nations to the European Union

Conceptualizing International Deliberation

Is a Global Constitution Possible?

A Global Public Sphere and Discursive Designs

10. Toward a Deliberative Democracy
Putting the Pieces Together

Taking Action

About the Author

"Political Communication and Deliberation is a groundbreaking volume. It advances our theorizing about deliberation, analyzes deliberative practices in a wide range of venues, and offers prescriptions for improving our democracy."

Robert Asen
University of Wisconsin, Madison

"In this remarkable book, Gastil shows how the concept of deliberation can be used to understand and evaluate the functioning of diverse political institutions, from elections to the media. With a superb command of diverse literatures, along with his characteristic good sense and wit, Gastil makes clear just how important talk is to a democratic society. Chock full of novel insights into political dynamics that we often take for granted, Political Communication and Deliberation will be of interest to both fledgling and seasoned students of politics."

Francesca Polletta
University of California-Irvine

"Professor Gastil has been a leading voice in the deliberative democracy movement for the last 15 years, and with this book he has created a wonderful resource that adeptly captures the broad, valuable work being done both inside and outside academia concerning public deliberation and political communication. I hope this book will help spark a whole new generation of courses focused on this critical topic."

Martín Carcasson
Colorado State University

"Political Communication and Deliberation is a thorough, thoughtful, readable, accessible, and smart book. Gastil's analyses and cases will surely spark deliberation. It is a gift to citizens, students, scholarly inquiry and the future of our democratic system."

Sharon E. Jarvis
University of Texas at Austin and the Annette Strauss Institute for Civic Participation

"The book works well as a textbook, a research summary that identifies where scholars can usefully devote their attention, and an inspiration to concerned citizens looking for realistic ways to improve democracy. Unusual in a work at the highest scholarly standards, there are even flashes of refreshing humor."

R.E. O'Connor
National Science Foundation
Choice Magazine

The course was canceled at the last minute in fall 2014. However, I plan to use the book when I teach the course in 2016.

Mr Benson Sexton
Communication, Lindsey Wilson College
January 15, 2015

Elements of this book are great, but the focus on deliberation didn't fit the survey nature of the course.

Professor Steve Hunt
Communication Dept, Illinois State University
September 1, 2010
Key features
  • Political Communication and Deliberation is framed around the argument that communication is central to democratic self-governance. As public issues grow in complexity and political units grow in size, it becomes increasingly important to assess the extent to which our public decisions are deliberative. This book explores that, without effective deliberation, any system of self-government will make short-sighted decisions and lack public legitimacy.
  • The text synthesizes cutting-edge research to argue the role of communication in self-governance and exposes readers to core ideas and findings in political communication. Readers will both develop a general background in political communication and acquire a powerful critical lens through which to understand the political world.
  • The book is organized into four parts: the Overview, which lays a foundation of public deliberation; Group Deliberation, which focuses on legislative deliberation; Mass Deliberation, which discusses deliberation in elections, in civic engagement, and among nations; and the Conclusion, which discusses the future of public deliberation.
  • The text provides meaningful classroom exercises in deliberation that draw the students outside the confines of the classroom and, at the same time, directly connects with ideas and findings discussed in the text.

Sample Materials & Chapters

Chapter 1

Chapter 3

Chapter 2