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Painting the most comprehensive portrait available of public deliberation in the United States, Talking Together reveals why civic dialogue is vital to America's future.
The authors' original and extensive research explains how and why citizen talk to each other, who is doing the talking, and what difference it makes. They find that-in settings ranging from one-on-one conversations to e-mail exchanges to larger and more formal gatherings-a surprising eight out of ten Americans regularly participate in public discussions about such pressing issues as the Iraq War, economic development, and race relations. Pinpointing the real benefits of public discourse while considering arguments that question its importance, Talking Together presents an authoritative and clear-eyed assessment of deliberation's function in American governance. In the process, it offers concrete recommendations for increasing the power of talk to foster political action.
1 The Discursive Turn: Citizens Talking Together 1
Part 1 Discursive Participation and Public Deliberation by Americans
2 How Much Deliberation? 31
3 Who Deliberates? 43
4 How Do Americans Deliberate? 64
5 The Civic and Political Impacts of Discursive Participation 83
6 A Case Study of Deliberation in Action: Americans Discuss Social Security 118
Part 2 Why Discursive Participation?
7 Organizing Deliberation 135
8 The Practice of Deliberation and the Hope for Democratic Renewal 152
Appendix: Coding of Variables from Discursive Participation Survey of the General Public 169