My thanks to the ever useful Consultation Institute newsletter for a link to a paper by John Gastil, entitled ‘A Comprehensive Approach to Evaluating Deliberative Public Engagement‘, which is available via their Knowledgebase. Although this is not directly related to e-democracy or e-government, there is by necessity the comprehension of what is expected of deliberation, which this paper quite neatly provides. For example on page 4 it states “the social component of deliberation is what makes it democratic deliberation by requiring equal opportunity, mutual comprehension and consideration, and respect. The social requirements also make clear the implicit emphasis on inclusion and diversity in deliberation”.
Whilst I entirely agree with the sentiments and suggestions of the essay, having personally spent years observing politicians I am afraid that actions like “mutual comprehension” and “respect” are rarely observed in any meeting room or chamber, particularly when an election is in the offing! However, rather than let any cynicism blind me I can agree that Professor Gastil’s criteria for evaluation, if they could be established with some sort of measure might be very suitable for observing progress.