The last decades have witnessed a spread of democratic innovations. Chief among them are deliberative mini-publics that gather randomly selected citizens to discuss salient public issues with the aim of generating some kind of ‘uptake’ in the broader political system. Political theorists have addressed the pros and cons of such innovations. Nevertheless, little is known about the citizens’ perspective on such mini-publics and on their role in the political system. Drawing on qualitative in-depth interviews, this article scrutinizes participants’ expectations. Findings show that they are motivated by internal expectations (desire of sociability, learning, and civic duty) and external expectations (presence and voice). Participants fundamentally perceive mini publics as a way to enrich the linkage between voters and their representatives, without forsaking the logic of electoral delegation. This work suggests that citizens may have complex and evolving conceptions of democracy.
- citizens’ conceptions of democracy
- deliberative democracy
- democratic innovations
- political participation