Citizens' juries and social learning : understanding the transformation of preference
The model of the citizens' jury is used here to examine whether the promise that deliberative democracy can enable transformations of preference among citizens is valid. Supporters of the citizens' jury go so far as to claim that it can encourage the habit of active citizenship. Deliberation has become central to academic work on the future of democracy and much of this work alludes to a relationship between deliberation and learning. So far however, the learning processes that are seen as central to it have not been fully investigated. This thesis explores the impact of participation in a deliberative process by presenting a predominantly qualitative analysis ofthe way the citizens' jury experience changes participants' preferences. The changes experienced by the jurors are presented as a juror journey but not all jurors embark on this journey in the same way, nor do they all travel at the same pace. Some of those interviewed for this study claim that their journey only ended some time after the jury itself came to an end and for some it is clearly ongoing. Addressing the juror journey as a learning process highlights the changes in the discursive strategies employed by the jurors as they come to understand the ethical components of discourse. By dividing the process into its constituent parts of thinking, willing and judging the procedural requirements of deliberation are highlighted. The results of the fieldwork show that the majority of respondents in this study of former citizens' jurors develop a heightened sense of efficacy that enables them to assert a sense of themselves as citizens. Most describe a new awareness that their actions affect others on whose behalf they are deliberating. This now occurs for many of them alongside a new sense of trust in others to make decisions on their behalf. The research concludes that if practitioners of deliberation want to continue to make claims about transformation of preference they need to use the principles of discourse ethics to examine the legitimacy of deliberative forums that are in use and to make recommendations about how to improve their validity in the eyes of the public.