Public Consultation Through Deliberation in China: The First Chinese Deliberative Poll
Throughout the world, policymakers who wish to consult the public appear to face a persistent dilemma. On the one hand, if they consult mass opinion directly, they will get views that are largely uninformed. Most citizens, most of the time, in most political systems, know little about the details of policy options or public policy. Even in systems with active electoral competition, each citizen can easily conclude that his or her individual opinion is unlikely to make much difference. Anthony Downs coined a term for this phenomenon: “rational ignorance” (Downs 1997). On the other hand, if policymakers do not attempt to consult the mass public directly, but leave it to policy elites and organized interests to speak for the people, those elites may have different interests. They may be out of touch with mass concerns. We seem to face a forced choice between politically equal but relatively incompetent masses and politically unequal but relatively more competent elites.
KeywordsPlenary Session Public Consultation Deliberative Democracy Public Hearing Political Equality
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