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James S. Fishkin:
The Hungarian Deliberative Poll

I am proud to be part of the collaborative team working on Hungary's first Deliberative Poll. With Deliberative Polling®, we are borrowing an ancient idea-of selecting people by lottery or random sampling and then getting them together to learn about an important issue and then decide what they think. In ancient Athens, such microcosms made important public decisions. Now we are adapting this process for the television age.

I call it a Deliberative Poll. An ordinary poll gives a snapshot of what the people are thinking even when they are not thinking very much or paying much attention. A Deliberative Poll tries to show what people would think if they had good information and really thought about the issue.

The process begins with a good random sample of the population. After it takes a survey of the conventional sort, we invite them to come to a single place for a couple of days of discussion with good information and an opportunity to consider competing points of view--both in small group discussions and in plenary sessions with competing experts and policymakers.

By the time the participants gather together, they will already have started to become more informed. That is good. In Britain, where we did the first deliberative poll in 1994, a woman told me that she wanted to thank me. She was the spouse of a participant. She said that in thirty years of marriage, her husband had never read a newspaper, but from the moment he had been invited, he had started to read "every newspaper every day and he was going to be a lot more interesting to live with in retirement."

We don't expect all the participants to read all the newspapers, but we do expect them to listen to each other, and to competing experts and to become much more well informed. We expect the views that result at the end to be the public's considered judgments. They will be views worth listening to, because they will reflect careful thought and good information.

When George Gallup effectively launched the public opinion poll in the 1936 U.S. Presidential election, he hoped it would bring the democracy of the New England town meeting to the large scale nation state. His idea was that newspapers and radio would send out the competing views of experts and policymakers and the public would think about them and talk them over and then its views would be reflected back by the public opinion poll. He said it would be as if "the whole country was in one great room."

The difficulty is that with a "room" on a national scale, most individuals in it were not paying much attention. Each individual opinion is subject to what social scientists call "rational ignorance." Each can see that his or her individual vote or opinion is unlikely to make much difference and most people have other, more pressing demands on their time. Hence the low levels of public information about public policy are not surprising in countries all over the world.

However, the Deliberative Poll puts "the whole country in one room" in a different way. It is a room on a human scale--a few hundred people where each can see that his or her vote makes a difference. In the Deliberative Poll individuals have every reason to become more informed and to pay attention. Instead of "rational ignorance" we get considered judgments, instead of "top of the head" impressions of sound bites and headlines, we get opinions based on deliberation.

I do not know what conclusions the Hungarian sample will draw about policy toward the Roma. Whatever the conclusions, they will be worth listening to. In Deliberative Polls conducted in countries as diverse as the US, Britain, Australia, Denmark, Canada, Bulgaria, Taiwan and China, the one thing I have learned is that the people are very smart--if only they have a reason to pay attention and get engaged in the process.



MAGYAR AGORAVITAHÉTVÉGEHÁTTÉRANYAGOKELEMZÉSEK



Magyar Agora 2005

Előszó
A MAGYAR AGORA a huszonegyedik századi média köztere és népgyűlése, ahol mindenki a nyilvánosság előtt mondhatja el a véleményét a közügyekről, és mindenki szembesülhet azzal, hogyan gondolkodnak ezekről mások. A Magyar Agorán szemtanúi lehettünk azoknak a pillanatoknak, amikor "közvélemény" születik. A projekt - Magyarországon először - a Deliberatív Közvélemény-kutatás módszerét ültette át a gyakorlatba: az Egyesült Államokban kifejlesztett, majd az elmúlt évtizedben világszerte nagy hatással alkalmazott technika a nyilvános konzultáció új modelljét valósítja meg.

A projekt munkatársai

 
Nemzetközi háttér

Deliberatív Demokrácia
A deliberatív demokráciában központi szerepet játszik a nyilvános vita. A deliberatív demokráciaelméletekben a nyilvános vita a közjóról alkotott eltérő elképzelések köré szerveződik, a benne résztvevő állampolgárok egyenlőek, és a vita során önmagukról alkotott felfogásuk és nézeteik is formálódnak. A nyilvános vitában az állampolgárok nem pusztán kinyilvánítják már meglévő preferenciáikat, hanem a mérlegelés és fontolgatás során alakítják ki álláspontjaikat.

Deliberative Poll a világ körül
A deliberatív demokrácia meghatározását, feltételeit és értékeit övezo tudományos viták nem gördítettek akadályt a gyakorlati próbálkozások útjába. Húszon felül van az eddigi deliberatív közvélemény-kutatási kísérletek száma, amelyeket Észak-Amerikában, Európában, Ausztráliában szerveztek.

Linkek

The Center for Deliberative Democracy

Research papers

In the press

First Online Deliberative Opinion Poll

Video from Past Deliberative Polling Events

Video clips

Australia Deliberates

 
A vitahétvége alapján készült tanulmánykötet borítója

A tanulmánykötet borítója


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