Jury Service as an Invitation to Citizenship: Assessing the Civic Value of Institutionalized Deliberation

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Abstract

When considering the merits of deliberative democracy, it is important to look into the experience of the American jury system. The jury has demonstrated the potential for citizen deliberation to play a central role in longstanding governmental institutions, but it has also played an unrecognized role in promoting civic engagement. Building on previous research demonstrating how jury service spurs increased electoral participation after jury service, we present results from a three-wave panel survey that show that a subjectively rewarding jury experience can spur broader civic engagement beyond voting. Given the value of the jury as both a model of deliberation and an engine of civic spirit, we consider the potential value of creating citizen juries to improve the initiative process, which currently lacks the citizen deliberation that is essential for any effective direct democratic processes.

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