Deliberation and internet engagement: initial findings from a randomised controlled trial evaluating the impact of facilitated internet forums

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Abstract

Public authorities are increasingly using information and communication
technology (ICT) to engage citizens in the politics, in particular through
internet discussion forums. This paper reports findings from a large-scale
online randomised controlled trail of 6,009 participants that aims to test the
effect of online deliberation on policy preferences. Participants were
randomised between four treatment groups and two control groups. All four
treatment groups were exposed to the same information and participants
were able to post their views. However, in only two of the treatment groups
were participants able to read and respond to the postings of others. The
analysis uses Compliance Average Causal Effects (CACE) models to show the
impact of deliberation. The paper finds that deliberation shifts participants’
views on youth anti-social behaviour, but that participation in online
deliberation tends to reinforce extant political inequalities.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2009

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