Participatory and Deliberative Democracy: Sortition and Democratic Representation

An upcoming session in the Political Studies Association’s Annual International Conference 2017:

Participatory and Deliberative Democracy: Sortition and Democratic Representation

Room: Executive Room B
Time Slot: Wednesday 12th April 11:00 – 12:30

Panel Chair: Dr John Boswell (University of Southampton)
Panel Members:

  • Mr Keith Sutherland (University of Exeter)
  • Dr Brett Hennig (Sortition Foundation)
  • Dr Peter Stone (Trinity College Dublin)
  • Mr Dimitri Courant (University of Lausanne & University Paris 8)

We are witnessing something of a revival in support for sortition, with the idea popularised in particular in David Van Reybrouck’s recent Against Elections: The Case for Democracy. Although the debate around the use of sortition has typically been tied to discussion of mini-publics, this panel seeks to look more broadly at its relationship to democratic theory and democratic practice more broadly conceived. It brings together proponents and sceptics, normative theorists and those whose work is more applied, for a contemporary, lively and varied debate on this age-old topic.


5 Responses

  1. This will be an interesting and somewhat fiery session — in particular given the massive disagreement between Peter and Brett. Let’s hope it brings in a bigger audience than the last PSA sortition panel a few years ago. Would be great to have some feedback from this blog before we go to Glasgow.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. It would be great if this were made available on video. Do you know if it will?


  3. Only if someone in the audience decides to film it — it’s just a regular parallel panel, not a plenary


  4. I think yesterday’s session (chaired by John Parkinson, co-author with Jane Mansbridge of Deliberative Systems went very well. There were over 20 in the audience, a large number for a PSA parallel panel (there were 15 or so others at the same time), and many more than the session we had a few years ago, when the panel outnumbered the audience, and far more people at the conference were familiar with the term ‘sortition’. One member of the audience I spoke to said that it was by far the best session of the conference (it was on the last day).

    There were sharp disagreements on the panel — especially between Peter and Brett. The positions of Dimitri and myself were more conciliatory (not an adjective normally associated with my name), but the question session at the end confirmed my fears that when millenarian appeals are made for the end of election and the abolition of politicians that we will all be tarred with the same brush — i.e. crazy utopian fanatics.

    The theme of the conference — ‘we live in interesting times’ — indicated that political studies are genuinely sympathetic to radical proposals to improve political representation, so I would appeal to all of us again to focus on areas we can agree on and drop the magic bullet nonsense, if only for pragmatic reasons.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. The growing interest and familiarity with sortition is great to hear.


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