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date: 27 October 2021

Abstract and Keywords

Deliberative mini-publics are institutions in which a diverse body of citizens is selected randomly to reason together about an issue of public concern. Despite the intense scholarly interest in mini-publics, to date their role has been fairly marginal in democratic polities. The chapter opens with an introduction to the variations in the design of mini-publics. We then review empirical evidence on the internal practice of mini-publics and argue that their capacity to support high quality deliberation explains the growing interest in these institutions. Finally, we analyze the possible roles of mini-publics within the political process. In both practical and normative terms, mini-publics tend to be perceived as consultative bodies. We examine arguments against the use of mini-publics in political decision making, evidence from their integration with direct and representative decision-making, and finally arguments for giving mini-publics a more decisive role in the political process.

Keywords: mini-publics, citizens, random selection, deliberation, direct democracy, institutional design, legitimacy

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