Deliberation as a concept has been developed as an ideal-typical approach to renew public communication and participation in the political and social sciences and to enhance the legitimacy of political institutions and their decisions. How values and norms pertinent to the model of deliberation (e.g., rationality, interactivity, and openness) get incorporated into political practice due to legal requirements or local design decisions in order to increase the legitimacy of political decisions has been researched only scarcely.
Thus, the aim of the common project of researchers from the HHU and the University of Warsaw is to analyze the relevance of values and norms associated to the concept of deliberation in practices of public consultations by local administrations in Germany and Poland. We analyze how these practices compare to one another and through which factors they are shaped. For the purpose of this study, we will focus on public consultations as an institutionalized channel of communication between local governments and members of local communities.
We will begin the project with the analysis of the most significant EU documents as well as national, regional, and local legal requirements regarding public consultations in order to capture the formal and legal context of deliberation in public consultations. Followed by an investigation into the conduct of public consultations by representatives of German and Polish municipalities. The core element of the project will consist of an experiment involving municipal clerks carrying out tasks regarding the planning and conducting of public consultations with the use of the inDialogue software (open license, non-commercial software).
As a result, we will identify the routinely used procedures of public consultations in municipalities and compare them with the model of deliberative public consultations as described in the literature and identified in the course of our document analysis. We aim to explain institutional and other factors that can be responsible for differences in the clerks’ perceptions and performance in the two countries. Finally, we will develop a set of guidelines for how IT can better support the administrative processes of public consultations and implement them exemplary in the projects own inDialogue software.
- Funding source: Funded by the German-Polish-Science-Foundation
- Project partner: University of Warsaw (Institute of Sociology, Centre for Deliberation)
- Duration: May 2019 until July 2021
Dr. Malte Steinbach
Alumni, Business Administration, Sociology
Dr. Malte Steinbach supervised the DIID as scientific coordinator from April 2019 to April 2020. He wrote his dissertation at the Chair of Business Administration, in particular Labor, Human Resources and Organization at the Heinrich Heine University Düsseldorf within the framework of the NRW Progress College Online Participation. At the University of Bonn he studied geography with the subsidiary subjects urban planning and economics.
In his master thesis he investigated the topic of e-participation in urban development using the city of Bonn as an example. His research deals with the providers of online participation processes from an organizational theory perspective. In his PhD, he investigated the diffusion of online participation in public organizations based on neoinstitutionalist organizational theories.
Since 2020, Dr. Malte Steinbach is project manager at DIID cooperation partner Zebralog in Bonn.
Jun.-Prof. Dr. Tobias Escher
Board, Computer Science, Political Science, Sociology
Tobias Escher leads a junior research group funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research, focused on the effects of citizen participation on quality and legitimacy of political decisions regarding the transformation towards sustainable mobility, in particular on the local level. Previously he has managed both the Düsseldorf Institute for Internet and Democracy (DIID) and the PhD programme on local level online participation (NRW Forschungskolleg) of Heinrich-Heine-University Duesseldorf. His research interests are the design and evaluation of participatory processes online and offline. His particular focus is the potential contribution of citizen participation for increasing the quality and legitimacy/acceptance of political decisions. He has also developed a course on the theory and practice of online participation, a result of which has been a platform allowing students to shape their course curricula.
Tobias Escher is a social scientist with a PhD in Information Science, Communication Studies and the Social Sciences from the Oxford Internet Institute at the University of Oxford. To asses the opportunities as well as the limitations of digital technologies he can also rely on his basic knowledge of Computer Science. Having previously worked and studied in Oxford, London, Leicester and Berlin, he joined Heinrich Heine University Duesseldorf in 2011.