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There is a growing literature covering topics of integrity and ethics in deliberative processes. Here’s what we’ve read so far. Help us build our reading list by sending suggestions to the project team

Note: Entries are organised alphabetically, according to the authors’ names.

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Using deliberation for partisan purposes: evidence from the Hungarian National Consultation
Daniel Oross and Paul Tap (2021)
Walking the Talk: The Performance of Authenticity in Public Engagement Work
Caroline Lee (2014)
This article examines how public engagement professionals in North America make sense of competing logics within their work and how they enact authencity in a commercialised context of promoting public engagement services. The article is behind a paywall available to some academic institutions. If you cannot access it, please contact us.
Holding this space: navigating ethical issues in citizen deliberation
Lucy J Parry (2024)
The Professionalization of Public Participation
Edited by L. Breher, M. Gauthier and L. Simard (2017)
The book puts together a collection of essays that focuses on the role of the ‘public participation professional’ in participatory spaces and the kinds of threats arising from the professionalization of public participation. ‘Manufacturing participation’ is one of these threats, where citizen participation is reduced to a ‘grand spectacle’ while real decision-making happens behind the scenes. This book is behind a paywall but some sections are available in GoogleBooks.
Reflexive Engagement? Actors, Learning, and Reflexivity in Public Dialogue on Science and Technology
Jason Chilvers (2013)
This articles builds on qualitative interviews to map out the ways in which actors involved in public science dialogue and deliberation in the UK reflect on their practice. It finds that reflection is limited to instrumental critique, missing out on deeper reflexivity and learning.
Outsourcing local democracy? Evidence for and implications of the commercialisation of community engagement in Australian local government
H.E. Christensen and B. Grant (2019)
This article calls for ‘careful scrutiny’ of the ‘community engagement industry,’ as state and territory governments in Australia increasingly call for direct public involvement in decision-making. It identifies the risks of ‘outsourcing local democracy’ in terms of commercialisation, standardisation and capacity-building. The article is behind a paywall but the pre-print version may be requested from the authors.
“One key challenge for the future of citizen panels is to make design decisions transparent with regard to their underlying assumptions and broader implications.”
– C. Mann et al, Challenging futures of citizen panels: Critical issues for robust forms of public participation
Organizing Deliberation: The Perspectives of Professional Participation Practitioners in Britain and Germany
E. Cooper and G. Smith (2012)
This article critically examines how ‘professional participation practitioners’ in the UK and Germany manage the tensions in upholding the principles of deliberative democracy while facing pressures of the market. The piece is available at the Journal of Deliberative Democracy.
The Integrity of Deliberative Procedures: A Research Agenda for Measuring Deliberative Quality with a Systemic Framework
D. Fleuß and G.S. Schaal, G.S. (2018)
This working paper was presented at the 2018 IPSA World Congress, where the authors advance a way to measure deliberative quality at the macropolitical level. It draws on the deliberative systems theory and builds on the work of the Electoral Integrity Project. The paper is available via ResearchGate.
Can the market help the forum? Negotiating the commercialization of deliberative democracy
C. Hendriks and L. Carson (2008)
This article examines the challenges the field faces as deliberative democracy’s ideals become commodities ‘bought’ and ‘sold’ in the market. Authors express caution about the consequences of the field’s commercialization, while also recognising opportunities for practitioners to see themselves as members of the ‘community of practice’ rather than competitors in a ‘marketplace.’ The article is available here.
When the Forum Meets Interest Politics: Strategic Uses of Public Deliberation
C. Hendriks (2006)
The article examines why partisan actors choose or refuse to engage in public deliberation, and the conditions that affect their decisions. It finds that partisan actors like lobby groups, corporations and activists engage public deliberation in various ways. Some actively engage, others were cautious, while some undermine the forum. This article prompts critical reflection on how the integrity of the forum can be upheld when engaging with partisan actors. The article is available here.
Integrity Scandals of Politicians: A Political Integrity Index
L. Huberts, M. Kaptein and B. de Koning (2021)
This article introduces the Political Integrity Index which aims to provide an overview of how often politicians are faced with public allegations of violating integrity. The piece distinguishes between accusations and scandals and operationalizes types of integrity violations. This article is available open access.
Do-It-Yourself Democracy: The Rise of the Public Engagement Industry
C. Lee (2015)
‘Why are these processes taking place now? Why do they look the way they do? Who runs them? How much do they cost and who pays for them? Do they make a difference? Why are they so popular with sponsors and the public, and why do activists seem to dislike them?’

These are some of the important questions Caroline Lee answers in this book, as she presents findings from a rich ethnographic study of the public engagement industry in the United States. Lee provides a fair and robust account on what happens when public deliberation is sold as ‘tools’ to cut costs and realise managerial goals. The book is behind a paywall but some sections are available on GoogleBooks.
“If public deliberation results in a decision aligned with the pre-existing preferences of policy makers, what evidence is there that deliberation was actually useful and relevant, more than a mere formality?”
– C. Smith and G. Rowe, Deliberative Processes in Practice
Challenging futures of citizen panels: Critical issues for robust forms of public participation
By: C. Mann, J-P Voß, N. Amelung, A. Simons, T. Runge and L. Grabner (2014)
This report presented future scenarios for citizen panels to stimulate an ‘anticipatory debate on future innovation processes’ with the aim of promoting responsible innovation. Among the scenarios include the booming market for deliberation services, the promotion of a ‘toolkit for democracy’ and the rise of ‘the reason machine.’  Read the report here.
Evaluation Guidelines for Representative Deliberative Processes
OECD (2021)
The OECD put forward principles for evaluating the quality and integrity of representative deliberative processes. This document proposes a three-step evaluation cycle that can help public authorities, practitioners, and observers to generate comparable data, learn from previous experience and develop better deliberative processes. Visit the website here.
Using deliberation for partisan purposes: Evidence from the Hungarian National Consultation, Innovation
D. Oross and P. Tap (2021)
This article provides evidence that ‘deliberative practices can be hijacked by political actors.’ It presents the case of the National Consultation in Hungary, which is designed by ‘the elite populist radical right party’ Fidesz. The article is available open access.
“It’s not my job to engineer you an outcome”: integrity challenges in deliberative mini-publics
Lucy J Parry (2023)
This working paper presents preliminary findings from the deliberative integrity project, exploring how deliberative practitioners identify and navigate ethical issues in practice.
Deliberative Processes in Practice
C. Smith and G. Rowe (2016)
This book chapter published in Big Picture Bioethics: Developing Democratic Policy in Contested Domains puts forward ideas on how the accountability and transparency of deliberative processes can be assessed in the absence of tools that can establish the causal links between the deliberative process and its outcomes. Pre-print available here.
The Failure to Examine Failures in Democratic Innovation
P. Spada and M. Ryan (2017)
This article interrogates the reasons why vast majority of research on democratic deliberation focuses on ‘best practices’ while there are very few studies that account for their failures. Authors urge scholars of deliberative democracy to ‘reflexively consider the scope their arguments in light of evidence and resist perverse incentives that encourage scholars to cherry pick research findings. The article is behind a paywall but the pre-print is available here.
“Thus academics when invited to evaluate democratic innovations are forced to inhabit a difficult space because they have to generate knowledge that is rigorous, but at the same time cannot be used to damage the reputation of the innovation itself.”
– P. Spada and M. Ryan, The Failure to Examine Failures in Democratic Innovation
Innovating public participation methods: Technoscientization and reflexive engagement
Jan-Peter Voss and Nina Amelung (2016)
In this article the authors chart the development of several deliberative engagement methods to examine how they have evolved from local, experimental, contextual knowledge claims to be generalisable, depoliticised and standardised. They find that the process of establishing a single dominant deliberative design was met with effective resistance, and that the field has more recently shown signs of reflexive engagement and diversity in terms of deliberative methods.
“Those working for private-sector organizations are conscious of the dual demands they face: the need to enact deliberative ideals and the commercial bottom-line.”
– E. Cooper and G. Smith, Organizing Deliberation