Deliberative citizens: the Citizens’ Convention on Climate and deliberation

By Bénédicte Apouey, Jean-Michel Fourniau, Solène Tournus

The process of recruiting a mini-public (via the drawing of lots) produces a group of volunteers who are motivated and available to participate. However, their deliberative dispositions are only revealed once the assembly meets and depend largely on the deliberative process itself. By analyzing the answers of volunteers participating in the French Citizens’ Convention on Climate to questionnaires on the deliberative quality of the exchanges, and by comparing them with those given by participants in the regional citizens’ conferences of the Great National Debate (France, 2019) and the G1000 (Belgium, 2011), we are able to perceive the expression of relational dispositions in the interactions that make a deliberative situation a shared experience. We use the expression “deliberative citizens” to describe the interactions between individual dispositions and the deliberative process, which form the shared experience. Listening and respect among participants, the expression of sincere opinions and their focus on the common good, and readiness to express political disagreement face-to-face all build confidence among the deliberative citizens in their collective capacity to produce effective and fair proposals. An international comparative program would make it possible to document citizens’ experiences; capture in greater detail individual dispositions that favor deliberation, their formation, and their dynamics; and interrogate the behaviors that arise from these dispositions, according to participants’ reasons for joining the deliberative process.

  • Deliberative citizen
  • Citizens’ Convention on Climate
  • citizens’ assembly
  • French Great National Debate
  • G1000
  • mini-public
  • deliberation
  • deliberation quality
  • France
  • Belgium
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