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Keywords:

  • Deliberation;
  • Arguing;
  • Bargaining;
  • Survey;
  • European Union

This article addresses the question of how to define, operationalise and measure empirically the concepts of arguing and bargaining, which are central to the normative theories of deliberative democracy. It points at, and proposes a solution to, one particularly difficult problem with respect to operationalisation, namely the distinction between arguing and cooperative forms of bargaining. The key to capturing this distinction is to look not only at whether, but also at why, actors give reasons for their positions. Motivations partly define arguing and bargaining as types of social decision procedure and it is difficult for researchers within the “empirical turn” of deliberative democratic theory to distinguish the two without studying the motives of the actors. The most straightforward way of analysing motives is asking people about them in interviews. An illustration of how the survey method can be used in practise is given from an ongoing research project on the Council of the European Union.