Citizens’ voices making change
Citizens’ assemblies and citizens’ juries bring together a group of people selected by civic lottery to exchange information and ideas through inclusive, respectful conversations, then agree on ways forward. They are particularly valuable for finding effective and acceptable solutions to “wicked” policy challenges such as health inequalities and the climate crisis. Collaborating with Involve, this research will advance our understanding of how these representative, deliberative processes can be designed and carried out to have maximum impact and legacy. The overall aim is to help create more effective, more trusted policy and to prepare our politics for the changes ahead.
What are citizens' juries and citizens' assemblies?
Citizens’ juries and assemblies (deliberative democratic processes) are characterised by
- representativeness - selecting participants through a process of "sortition"
- deliberation - exchange of information and ideas through inclusive, constructive and respectful conversations
- links to policy - generating recommendations for decision-makers
They are designed to redistribute power towards more marginalised voices, enhance the capacity of citizens to influence decisions that affect them and their communities. They aim to respond to societal challenges associated with disengagement with political processes by creating more effective, more trusted policy through participation and deliberation.
MAIN PROJECT AIMS
- To improve our understanding of how citizens’ juries and citizens’ assemblies to tackle climate change and health inequalities can be designed and carried out to have maximum impact and legacy
- To analyse pathways to impact and legacy of deliberative processes
- To try out innovative or under-researched methods to enhance impact and evaluate them, to add to the evidence base of what works
Why is this important?
Factors that make for sound deliberative democratic processes are well understood, but more research is needed to understand pathways to impact (social impact, or immediate or short-term effects on policy) and legacy (longer-lasting influences on society, or their systemic impact on the political system).
People who run citizens’ juries and citizens’ assemblies are already aware of potential pathways to impact, but they don’t have the resources to implement and evaluate them. Evidence for what works will help make the case for effective interventions to be funded.
What? A citizens’ assembly brings together people from all across our communities – our shopkeepers, teachers, carers, tradespeople, doctors, friends and family members – to tackle a problem.
How? People are given the time and information to find the best solution. Just like a jury, everyone has an equal chance of being selected and they are supported to take part.
Where? Citizens’ assemblies have been held all over the world to transform politics. -www.sortitionfoundation.org
WHAT ARE WE DOING?
The first stage of the research is a ‘pathway analysis’ to review what is already known about how deliberative processes and other similar interventions can have impact and legacy by looking at published research and reports. We will talk with people who have experience in the field (practitioners, local government commissioners and participants of citizens’ juries and assemblies) and develop a survey to extend the reach of the research.
The second stage is to implement a small number of innovative or under-researched interventions to enhance impact and legacy in a case study citizens’ assembly and evaluate their effectiveness. We will then develop and share guidance to support commissioners and practitioners of deliberative processes.
HOW WILL THE PUBLIC BE INVOLVED?
A public involvement group will contribute throughout the research, bringing their lived experiences of participating in citizens’ juries or citizens’ assemblies.
WHAT WILL THE RESEARCH OUTPUTS BE?
We will co-produce a toolkit with practitioners and commissioners of citizens’ assemblies and citizens’ juries, and disseminate it through the research team’s and advisory group’s networks, for example, through the team's and advisory group's networks, including KNOCA, the Democracy R&D network of organisations working globally in deliberative democracy, and the OECD network on innovative citizen participation.
A launch event will be held, and the toolkit will be hosted on the Involve website.
Who is funding this research?
This research is funded under the British Academy Innovation Fellowship scheme