Public deliberation in an age of direct citizen participation
Roberts, Nancy C.
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Citizen participation in the decisions that affect their lives is an imperative of contemporary society. For the first half of the 20th century, citizens relied on public officials and administrators to make decisions about public policy and its implementation. The latter part of the 20th century saw a shift toward greater direct citizen involvement. This trend is expected to grow as democratic societies become more decentralized, interdependent, networked, linked by new information technologies, and challenged by “wicked problems.” The purpose of this article is to summarize the past experiments in direct citizen participation—the forms they take, the challenges they raise (including the need for redefined roles for public officials and citizens), and the consequences they produce. By laying out what has been done in the past, we are better positioned to identify the critical issues a nd challenges that remain for researchers and practitioners to address in the future.
The article of record may be found at http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/0275074004269288
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