„Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG)“
February 2020 to January 2022
Citizen involvement in deliberative forums is frequently discussed with an eye on boosting the legitimacy of democratic decision-making. However, this idea has been radically challenged by Cristina Lafont (2015), arguing that such forums may eventually decrease rather than increase democratic legitimacy. Yet Lafont´s legitimacy challenge has been primarily discussed at a theoretical level, without taking the perceptions of non-participating citizens (´onlookers´) into account. In the project “Was sich Bürger von deliberativen Beteiligungsverfahren wünschen: Eine Online-Umfrage mit einem Präferenzexperiment zur Erfassung perzipierter Legitimitätsvorstellungen”, just funded by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, German Research Foundation - 432370948) puts the “Lafont conjecture” to an empirical test by implementing a conjoint experiment to examine legitimacy perceptions of a representative sample of German citizens. It focuses on a set of institutional design features of deliberative forums such as authorization mechanisms (e.g., binding decisions vs recommendations) or recruitment techniques (random vs self-selection), combining these design features with substantive aspects (issue salience and outcome favorability), attitudinal dispositions of participants (e.g., political disenchantment and general process preferences), participants´experiences with such forums as well as information on the pros and cons of the various design elements of deliberative forums.