Becoming Deliberative Citizens: The Moral Learning Process of the Citizen Juror

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Abstract

This article presents an analysis of qualitative interviews carried out with citizen jurors at least three years after they participated in a jury. Theoretical work on deliberation tends to emphasise the transformative effect of deliberation. Much empirical work has focused on this transformation conceived as the re-prioritisation of preferences, and examines whether and how jurors change their personal and political commitments as a result of their participation on a jury. Another approach to transformation is more discursive, and hypothesises that the concepts and perspectives that jurors use to evaluate norms may also be transformed. This article presents qualitative data that illuminate this latter hypothesis. Specifically, the article analyses the stories ex-jurors told of their participation in citizen juries, in order to chart changes in the concepts and perspectives that jurors use to evaluate norms. By analysing these stories we identify four juror roles – envoy, regulator, advocate and deliberator – and we elaborate these using Habermas' learning theory. Overall our argument is that the citizen juror is given the opportunity to undertake a learning process, and through this process they are furnished with new concepts and perspectives with which to evaluate norms. Moreover, Habermas theorises that this learning process cumulates with the formation of a deliberative citizen who thinks using the characteristics described in discourse ethics. Here we identify discourses that support this claim.

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