CANCELED/ PERUTTU: 20.3.2020 Better Judgments?

CANCELED / PERUTTU Better judgments? Epistemic effects of deliberative mini-publics

Maija Jäske, Samforsk, Åbo Akademi,

Time: Friday, 20.3.2020 at 13:15-14:45, Metsätalo (Unioninkatu 40) Sali 29



In a democratic system, citizens ought to have an enlightened understanding of policy choices (Dahl 1989). The polarization and fragmentation of information environments has, however, made it difficult for citizens to form considered opinions (Aelst et al., 2017). Acquiring information and forming “enlightened” opinions is particularly difficult in referendums, which is why they are often criticized for voter ignorance (Colombo, 2018). Different ways to educate and inform referendum voters have been tested by political scientists (e.g. Neijens and de Vreese, 2009). Most recently, deliberative mini-publics such as the Citizens’ Initiative Review have been offered as a solution to the problem of voter competence in referendums. This paper studies how a deliberative mini-public affects factual knowledge and consistency of vote preferences in a referendum campaign.

Recent research on referendums shows that voters are capable of making justified and consistent choices in the right conditions (Colombo, 2018; Neijens and de Vreese, 2009). In this paper we analyse the case of Citizens Jury on Referendum Options in Korsholm, Finland, that took place prior to a consultative local referendum on municipal merger. We explore how reading the statement written by a deliberative jury affects accuracy of beliefs and consistency of opinions in the wider public. The data come from a survey experiment (N=77/97) conducted after the citizens’ jury and before the referendum. The results shed light on the potential epistemic effects of deliberative mini-publics (Estlund & Landemore 2018) and opens avenues to research on inequalities in voter competence by studying whether these effects vary in different sociodemographic groups.



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