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date: 21 August 2019

Abstract and Keywords

The discipline of communication encompasses a broad spectrum of humanistic, interpretive, and social scientific approaches to studying public deliberation. Early work engaged Habermasian theories of the public sphere, and rhetorical scholarship has foregrounded the deliberative threads running back to the discipline’s earliest history in ancient Greece. The bulk of contemporary work, however, has examined the dynamics of deliberation, particularly in the context of face-to-face discussions and dialogues in small groups. These studies have revealed the importance of narrative and dialogic exchanges during deliberation, as well as the critical role of facilitation and the maintenance of deliberative norms. Research has also assessed the practical consequences of participating in deliberation. The discipline’s practical orientation has led some scholars to seek ways to optimize deliberative designs to maximize simultaneously the quality of their decision outputs and their civic impacts on participants.

Keywords: dialogue, discussion, facilitation, narrative, rhetoric, public meetings, small group communication

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