Deliberation vs. participation in blogs

by Henry Farrell on March 3, 2008

Bloggingheads have posted a dialogue I did some days ago with Cass Sunstein (I’ve embedded it below; if it doesn’t work for you, go “here”: instead). As “John Q.”: noted a few weeks ago, Cass is pretty skeptical about the virtues of Internet communication; he believes that it is quite likely to lead to political polarization and perhaps extremism, and not to the kinds of thoughtful, deliberative exchanges between left and right that he’d like to see. I suspect that he’s largely right on the empirics – but as I argue in the bloggingheads, there’s a strong case to be made that deliberation isn’t the only aspect of politics we should treasure. We should also be interested in increasing political participation. Unfortunately, there’s evidence that the two may be partly antithetical to each other – exactly the kinds of cross cutting exchanges between people of different political viewpoints that Cass wants to promote may decrease people’s willingness to participate in politics.

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