Uppsala Forum Guest Lecture: Deliberative reasoning and the resolution of deep differences: An empirical study of deliberation concerning immigrant street beggars in Uppsala

  • Date: –15:00
  • Location: Gyllenheilmska biblioteket, Skytteanum, Valvgatan 4
  • Lecturer: Associate Professor Simon Niemeyer, University of Canberra
  • Contact person: PerOla Öberg
  • Föreläsning

Politicised public discourse often creates the perception of deep difference. Certain kinds of rhetoric may frame issues in ways that induce polarization in political preferences that belie greater harmony among underlying values and beliefs. It also induces citizens to reason about issues on terms set by actors where are able to effectively frame issues in certain ways. This presentation demonstrates how deliberation facilitates intersubjective reasoning whereby participants not only determine the framing of issues, but do so in ways that induce better integration of values and beliefs into reasoning on terms that they establish themselves. This integrative reasoning accommodates all relevant issue dimensions, and not just those made salient by manipulatory political rhetoric, identity politics or cognitive heuristics. The effect is empirically demonstrated using the example of a deliberative minipublic on the issue of street begging by internal EU migrants on the streets of Uppsala. Improved reasoning is demonstrated via the concept of Intersubjective Consistency. The approach draws on the theory of deliberative metaconsensus to assesses how well deliberators have collectively integrated all relevant issue considerations into their reasoning. In the Swedish case, deliberators began as polarised between positions driven by welfarist versus anti-immigrant perspectives. After deliberation differences remained, but reflect more issue specific dynamics and a growing desire on both sides to deal with the issue at its source rather than focussing on short term solutions. The mechanisms that induce integrative reasoning and the implications for deliberative theory and addressing contemporary democratic issues around the problem of polarization is discussed.

Simon Niemeyer is an Associate Professor and co-founder of the Centre for Deliberative Democracy and Global Governance. His research covers the broad fields of deliberative democracy and environmental governance. He has contributed to major theoretical insights in deliberative democracy, with practical implications informing the design of deliberative minipublics, as well as improving the broader democratic process. He completed his PhD at the Australian National University and since then has been the recipient of a number of Australian Research Council Awards — including ARC Postdoctoral and Future Fellowships. He has led major international research projects, both in Australia and overseas, most recently a Swedish VR project hosted by Uppsala University 2014-2017 developing theories of the deliberative citizen. His more recent research investigates methods for assessing the deliberativeness of democratic systems and mechanisms for diffusion of the impacts of minipublics across different scales.