Evaluating the role of public hearings within deliberative democracy: operationalising the democratic standards as a framework

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

36 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

Public hearings are used widely in policy and decision making. Hearings have been subject to criticisms in some academic quarters. While some of these criticisms are valid, hearings have been overlooked in terms of the democratic value at a relational level. It has been suggested in theory that they are valuable for a deliberative approach to democracy, yet very little evidence exists to support this or to illustrate how hearings can best be utilised as part of a deliberative democratic system. This article contributes to the deliberative literature in two key ways. First, I introduce the democratic standards set out by Smith (2009) in a comparative framework, the Democratic Standard Enactment Index (DSEI), which offers a systematic way to analyse public hearing’s capacity to enact core democratic norms inclusiveness, popular control, transparency and considered judgement. Second, using four case studies, I highlight the strengths and weaknesses of hearings, evaluate how effectively they can be coupled with other democratic institutions, and consider where there are best placed to contribute to a deliberative democratic policy making process. Overall, the democratic norms are consistently fulfilled by the hearings. Their limitations can be overcome by changes to the format and by linking the hearings with other participatory and deliberative processes. The findings provide important nuance to our understanding of the role of public hearings as part of a deliberative democratic system.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Deliberative Democracy
Volume20
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 26 Feb 2024

Keywords

  • public hearings
  • democratic norms
  • case studies
  • deliberative democracy

Fingerprint

Dive into the research topics of 'Evaluating the role of public hearings within deliberative democracy: operationalising the democratic standards as a framework'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this