January 1, 2009
John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University

Over the past four years, there have been studies of local public deliberations in nine communities across the United States. A search was conducted for communities where it seemed that the practice of regular and organized deliberation had taken root and grown. There was a need to understand how what almost always begins as a limited effort to mobilize citizens and convene them to consider a public issue or political problem can sometimes grow into a regular practice that involves many different segments of a community and spans multiple issues that bear scant relation to one another. Such communities would be interesting because they would be ones in which the skills, practice, and organizational wherewithal to conduct regular public deliberation had become “embedded.”

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