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Talking Together

Public Deliberation and Political Participation in America

Talking Together

Public Deliberation and Political Participation in America

Challenging the conventional wisdom that Americans are less engaged than ever in national life and the democratic process, Talking Together paints the most comprehensive portrait available of public deliberation in the United States and explains why it is important to America’s future.

The authors’ original and extensive research reveals how, when, and why citizens talk to each other about the issues of the day.  They find that—in settings ranging from one-on-one conversations to e-mail exchanges to larger and more formal gatherings—a surprising two-thirds of Americans regularly participate in public discussions about such pressing issues as the Iraq War, economic development, and race relations. Pinpointing the real benefits of public discourse while considering arguments that question its importance, Talking Together presents an authoritative and clear-eyed assessment of deliberation’s function in American governance. In the process, it offers concrete recommendations for increasing the power of talk to foster political action.

See additional data and documentation about the survey done for the book.

224 pages | 10 line drawings, 29 tables | 6 x 9 | © 2009

Political Science: American Government and Politics, Political Behavior and Public Opinion

Sociology: Social Change, Social Movements, Political Sociology

Table of Contents


One      The Discursive Turn: Citizens Talking Together

Part 1   Discursive Participation and Public Deliberation by Americans  

Two     How Much Deliberation?         

Three   Who Deliberates?        

Four     How Do Americans Deliberate?           

Five      The Civic and Political Impacts of Discursive Participation        

Six       A Case Study of Deliberation in Action: Americans Discuss Social Security      

Part 2   Why Discursive Participation?  

Seven   Organizing Deliberation

Eight     The Practice of Deliberation and the Hope for Democratic Renewal                  

Appendix         Coding of Variables from Discursive Participation Survey of the General Public




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