Mixing Habermas with Bayes: Methodological and Theoretical Advances in the Study of Deliberation

Authors

  • Dominik Hangartner,

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    1. University f Berne
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    • Dominik Hangartner is a Ph.D. student at the University of Berne. His research focuses on quantitative methodology with an emphasis on causal inference from observational data. He has published on the (non-)monetary benefits of social networks (Kölner Zeitschrift für Soziologie und Sozialpsychologie 2005 and European Sociological Review 2006), the correlation between body height and social stratification (Soziale Welt 2006) and the estimation of hazard risk for different types of car drivers (Swiss Journal of Economics and Statistics, forthcoming).

  • André Bächtiger,

    Corresponding author
    1. University f Berne
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    • André Bächtiger is Senior Assistant at the University of Berne. His research focuses on institutions and deliberation as well as democratization in the less developed world. He is co-author of Deliberative Politics in Action (Cambridge University Press 2004) and co-editor of the two special issues of Acta Politica 40(11) and 40(22) on “Empirical Approaches to Deliberative Democracy”. He has also published a paper on democracy in Africa and Asia (European Journal of Political Research 2005).

  • Rita Grünenfelder,

    Corresponding author
    1. University f Berne
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    • Rita Grünenfelder is Assistant at the University of Berne. Her research focuses on political psychology, deliberation, and gender issues.

  • Marco R. Steenbergen

    Corresponding author
    1. University f Berne
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    • Marco R. Steenbergen is Professor at the University of Berne. His research interests lie in the fields of political psychology and quantitative methods. Recent publications include a paper about the humanitarian values and attitudes toward welfare policies (American Journal of Political Science 2001), a paper about multi-level models (American Journal of Political Science 2002), and a paper on the measurement of discourse quality (Comparative European Politics 2003). He also is a co-author of Deliberative Politics in Action (Cambridge University Press 2004).


Institute of Political Science, University of Berne, Lerchenweg 36, CH-3000 Berne 9, Switzerland. Phone: +41 (0) 31 631 48 31; Fax: +41 (0) 31 631 85 90; Email: hangartner@ipw.unibe.ch

Institute of Political Science, University of Berne, Lerchenweg 36, CH-3000 Berne 9, Switzerland. Phone: +41 (0) 31 631 34 69; Fax:+41 (0) 31 631 85 90; Email: baechtiger@ipw.unibe.ch

Institute of Political Science, University of Berne, Lerchenweg 36, CH-3000 Berne 9, Switzerland. Phone: +41 (0) 31 631 34 69; Fax:+41 (0) 31 631 85 90; Email: gruenenfelder@ipw.uunibe.ch

Institute of Political Science, University of Berne, Lerchenweg 36, CH-3000 Berne 9, Switzerland. Phone:+ 41 (0) 31 631 46 85; Fax:+41 (0) 31 631 85 90; Email: steenbergen@ipw.unibe.ch

Abstract

Two challenges stand out in the study of deliberation: the development of appropriate methodological tools and the development of more unified analytical frameworks. On the one hand, analysing deliberative processes is demanding and time-consuming; hence we tend to have only few and non-randomly selected cases at the group or context level. In addition, the real world of deliberation presents us with a complex matrix of nested, cross-classified, and repeated speakers. This article shows that Bayesian multi-level modelling provides an elegant way to tackle these methodological problems. On the other hand, we attempt to enrich comparative institutionalism with individual characteristics and psychologically relevant variables (such as group composition). Focusing on Swiss and German parliamentary debates we show that institutional factors - in particular, consensus systems -, the gender composition of committees and plenary sessions, and age matter for the quality of deliberation. Furthermore, we also show that partisan affiliation - government or opposition status of MPs - affects deliberative quality and can refine institutional arguments. We conclude that a multi-level approach to deliberation focusing on contextual and actor-related characteristics and using Bayesian hierarchical modelling paves the way toward a more advanced understanding - and methodological handling - of deliberative processes.

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