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Main author(s): Katharina Esau


In a more general sense, Deliberation refers to the ability to exchange information, opinions and find agreements. The theoretical concept of deliberation is associated with Deliberative Democratic Theory (e. g. Cohen 1989; Gutmann & Thompson 2004; Habermas 1981). As the Internet is changing the technological possibilities for political information, communication and participation, new hopes of a normatively speaking 'better' public sphere have been spoken out by theoreticians (Dahlberg 1998; Graham & Witschge 2003).

  • Deliberation process: the process of weighing preferences and arguments before decision making

Standards of deliberative communication

In traditional terms deliberative communication requires normative standards like rationality, reciprocity, respect, constructiveness. However, there is still a controversial discussion gioing on about the question: What characterizes deliberative communication?

  • Bächtiger et al. (2010) distinguish between type I deliberation and type II deliberation
    • type I deliberation: focus on rational discourse and on process
    • type II deliberation: includes forms of communication beyond the traditional rational discourse and takes a prime focus on deliberative institutions and outcomes
      • "Some deliberative democrats, especially those who traffic in 'public reason', want to impose narrow limits on what constitutes authentic deliberation, restricting it to arguments in particular kinds of terms [...]. A more tolerant position, which I favour, would allow argument, rhetoric, humour, emotion, testimony or storytelling, and gossip." (Dryzek 2000: 1)
      • Young (2000: 53) about greeting, rhetoric and narrative: “All three modes of communication aid the making of arguments and enable understanding and interaction in ways that argument alone cannot.”
      • along with type II deliberation Bächtiger et al. see the danger of stretching the theoretical concept of deliberation (Bächtiger et al. (2010:33))

Previous Research

Online Deliberation Research

There is a growing field of online deliberation research. Frieß and Eilders propose a framework with three components of deliberation: the institutional design that enables and fosters deliberation (institutional input: “design”), the quality of the communication process (communicative throughput: “process”), and the expected results of deliberation (productive outcome: “results”) (Frieß/Eilders 2015).

Findings on Throughput

Studies on Throughput of Deliberation / Deliberative Quality of User Comments

Findings on Input

Studies on Deliberative Platform Design.

Esau et al. (2017) compare between different types of news platforms that differ in terms of platform design (a news forum, news websites, and Facebook news pages) and find out that deliberation (measured as rationality, reciprocity, respect, and constructiveness) differs significantly between platforms. The study shows that the news forum yields the most rational and respectful debate. While user comments on news websites are only slightly less deliberative, Facebook comments perform poorly in terms of deliberative quality. However, comments left on news websites and on Facebook show particularly high levels of reciprocity among users.

Theories and Concepts


Persuasion can attempt to influence a person's beliefs, attitudes, opinions, values or behavioral intention (Wirth/Kühne 2013: 314). Persuasion in Online-Deliberation can lead to opinion change. Besides Deliberation research, research on persuasion is a field in media studies, communication theory and psychology.

Two major models (two routes of persuasion)

  • Elaboration likelihood model (ELM)
  • Heuristic systematic model (HSM)

Methodology and Measurement

Measuring Deliberative Quality of (Online) Discussions

Choosing criteria for measuring the quality of a discussion in the light of deliberative democracy is strongly connected to the question what deliberation is

  • DQI (Discourse Quality Index) (Steenbergen et al. 2003)
  • IQU (Index of a Quality of Understanding) (Burkhart & Rußmann 2010; Klinger & Rußmann 2014)
  • DTM (Deliberative Transformative Moments) (Jaramillo & Steiner 2014)
  • TEI (Textual Emotional Index) (Roald & Sangolt 2011)

External Information

A lot of tools to support deliberation can be found at


This category has only the following subcategory.


Pages in category "Deliberation"

The following 42 pages are in this category, out of 42 total.