British Politics

, Volume 6, Issue 2, pp 155–186 | Cite as

Institutionalising public deliberation: Insights from the Scottish Parliament

  • Stewart Davidson
  • Alastair Stark
Original Article


This article analyses the institutionalisation of public and civic forms of deliberation within the Scottish Parliament. The analysis focuses on the committee system of the Parliament and is constructed around a unique database, created by the authors, which records the nature of all deliberative instances involving parliamentary committees and members of the public/stake-holding groups between 1999 and 2009. Findings emerge from the data that are of relevance to two main audiences. First, those with a concern for the abstractions of deliberative theory are provided with much needed empirical evidence about the institutionalisation of deliberative processes within a national legislature. And second, those with a concern for legislative studies and devolved politics are provided with a novel evaluation of deliberation that feeds into wider debates about the principles of the Scottish Parliament. Our findings show that the committees of the Scottish Parliament have been relatively successful in institutionalising a deliberative system comprised of a range of discursive spheres of varying complexity. However, this optimism must be tempered by the observation that this is a system in decline.


deliberative democracy deliberation citizen participation Scottish Parliament devolution Scottish politics 


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Copyright information

© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Ltd 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Stewart Davidson
    • 1
  • Alastair Stark
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Social SciencesGlasgow Caledonian UniversityUK
  2. 2.Department of Economic Studies and International BusinessGlasgow Caledonian UniversityUK

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