In-Class Assignment #19 • Discussion of international news websites • What did you find different across the sites? • What did you learn? • Was anything surprising?
Hearing the Other Side: Deliberative vs. Participatory Democracy Mutz, Ch. 5 The Social Citizen: Political Discussion
The Basics Political Discussion • Foundation for democracy • Discussion Knowledge Participation • Who talks the most? • Higher income, higher education, male, older • Partners and networks • Safe = Similar, like-minded people • Diverse = Mixed group • Dangerous = Dissimilar, non-like-minded people
Characteristics of Informal Political Discussions • Brief • Between family or romantic partners • Face-to-face • At home • Prompted by news media and personal experience • Driven by motivations of expression, debate, and learning; rather than persuasion • Often censored to avoid conflict
The Ideal Citizen “Conflict is the gadfly of thought. It stirs us to observation and memory. It instigates to invention.” -- John Dewey (1922) The Ideal Citizen • Politically active and strongly partisan • But not surrounded by like-minded • Knowledgeable of rationale for opposing views • But not paralyzed by conflicting information and cross-pressures • Tight-knit, close networks of trust • But among people who frequently disagree • Frequent discussions with disagreement • But has no repercussions for personal relationships
The Problem • We want a PARTICIPATORY DEMOCRACY that engages in DELIBERATIVE DEMOCRACY. • “Partisans make elections happen. They are the ones who cheer in joy and who mourn in sorrow on election night.” BUT…. • “Partisans have a certain distaste for partisanship, at least if it is to include the partisanship of those they oppose. And they do not tend to perceive their own side as very partisan at all, since it seems defensible to them”
The Problem Deliberative Democracy Participatory Democracy VS. • Implies that democracy needs rational, balanced political discussion • Accepting of all political beliefs, however disagreeable • Tolerance • Open-mindedness • Non-judgmental • Implies that democracy needs active, engaged citizens • Strong partisanship • Confident judgments about which political choices are right and wrong • Actively engaged in politics (e.g., voting, rallies, volunteering, donations, knowledgeable)
How Do Most Of Us React? “The voice of moderation is seldom very loud.” (Mutz, 2006, p. 127) • Remember, US is purple • Talk most often during safe discussion; tend to avoid dangerous discussion • But, appeal for moderate opinions and listen to “the other side” during dangerous and diverse discussion • Those mixed allegiances and cross-pressures decrease political activism • Downplay importance of politics • Become apolitical citizens to avoid social costs discussion and participation • Volunteer at apolitical organizations to still show we are active citizens
How Do Some Of Us React? • Also remember, the US does have active political extremes • Strong partisans seek like-minded partisans • Engage in safe discussion • Reinforces partisan opinions • Bash “the other side” • Arouses activism and participation • No social costs of discussion and participation
What’s The Right Path To Democracy? Safe Discussion Networks • Good: Promote like-minded to activism • Anti-slavery movement, gay-rights movement • Bad: Extremists prolong conflicts and prevent compromise • Nazi Germany Diverse Discussion Networks • Good: Abrupt change and social upheaval is lessened • Bad: Promote pressures to maintain status quo
Who’s The Best Citizen? • Political theory encourages deliberation for best democracy • “Disinterested observers” who evaluate and tolerate • Political behavior suggests partisans for best democracy • “Impassioned partisans” who persuade and argue • The partisans educate and persuade the open-minded disinterested observers.
In-Class Assignment #20 • Can we have both? • Can a citizen be a partisan yet also be a disinterested observer when appropriate? • Is that a desirable goal? • Or should we recognize the important balance of the two and be content with it? • Most Realistic Diverse Political Discussion?
What Can We Do? Balancing Social Harmony and Political Expression • “Sport” Approach to Politics • Create common ground • Disagreement adds to entertainment value • Good-natured, barbed teasing, some laughter, some substantive arguments • Problems • Politics speaks to one’s values • Politics has ramifications
What Can We Do? Balancing Social Harmony and Political Expression • Actively Promote Civility • Media campaign • OK to support other parties/policies/ideology • Avoid making inflammatory remarks • Try to hear the other side • Problems • Government or media’s job to intervene? • Politics is emotional
What Can We Do? Balancing Social Harmony and Political Expression • Teach Political Etiquette • Children learn from parents and teachers • Teach • How to start political talk • How to politely disagree • How to debate • How to foster understanding of others’ opinions • Problems • Who should promote this idea?
Conclusion For the individual citizen, diverse discussion and deliberation is more valuable. • Positives • Tolerance, open-mindedness • Leads to less extreme views • Embodies “marketplace of ideas” • One pitfall • Less participation • Founding Fathers and participation For the country, it’s health to have both participatory and deliberative citizens.