Inclusion and Citizen Participation

in Sweden's Municipalities and Regions

A new research overview by Nazem Tahvilzadeh, Ph.D. and lecturer in public administration and associate professor in Political Science at Södertörn University, highlights how deliberative mini-publics can contribute to the inclusion of marginalized groups in community planning and decision-making.

Deliberative mini-publics are a form of citizen dialogue where a random selection of the population participates in a deliberative design. Participants are given the opportunity to consider different arguments based on their merits, rather than on preconceived opinions or partisan information. The purpose of this method is to clarify 'the will of the people' in a time characterized by misinformation and propaganda.

Tahvilzadeh emphasizes that inclusion does not automatically follow from arranging participatory governance forms. A range of conditions and circumstances are required for marginalized groups to participate and be given the opportunity to solve their problems in various forums for participation and deliberation.

The research shows that deliberative mini-publics have the potential to contribute to more inclusive political processes and societies. They can give participants greater opportunities to gain insight and respect for other perspectives on issues than what is possible in other contexts.

Tahvilzadeh stresses that despite an increasing number and in many ways ambitious initiatives to include new groups, the results on the whole are rather modest. These insights underline the importance of carefully considering how we define and include marginalized groups in community planning and decision-making.

The research shows that citizen dialogues can play an important role in promoting inclusion and citizen participation. However, it is clear that more work is needed to ensure that these processes truly reflect the diversity and complexity of our societies.

TDespite the challenges, Tahvilzadeh is optimistic about the potential of deliberative mini-publics to contribute to a more inclusive and democratic community planning and decision-making. He calls for continued research and experimentation with these and other forms of citizen dialogue to better understand how we can create more inclusive and democratic societies.

Download the report (in Swedish) here.

in News
April 25, 2023
Share this post
Our blogs
Jürgen Habermas Honored with Johan Skytte Prize in Political Science