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Public Consultation Through Deliberation in China: The First Chinese Deliberative Poll

  • James S. Fishkin
  • Baogang He
  • Alice Siu

Abstract

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.

Keywords

Plenary Session Public Consultation Deliberative Democracy Public Hearing Political Equality 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Works Cited

  1. Downs, Anthony. 1997. An Economic Theory of Democracy. Reading, MA: Addison Wesley.Google Scholar
  2. He, Baogang. 2003. “The Theory and Practice of Chinese Grassroots Governance: Five Models.” Japanese Journal of Political Science 4(2): 293–314.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Nylen, W.R. 2002. “Testing the Empowerment Thesis: The Participatory Budget in Belo Horizonte and Betim, Brazil.” Comparative Politics 34(2): 127–45.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Ogden, Suzanne. 2002. Inklings of Democracy in China. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Ethan J. Leib and Baogang He 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • James S. Fishkin
  • Baogang He
  • Alice Siu

There are no affiliations available

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