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The Collaborative Project of Public Deliberation

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Chapter Summary

Andy Blunden's foundational concept, which he calls a collaborative project, provides an alternative starting point for understanding and presenting public deliberation. This chapter demonstrates that a mini-public is an archetypal project. Furthermore, the interdisciplinary project orientation advances Activity Theory from its roots in psychology to open new pathways for narrative accounts and improvement of public deliberation. The project orientation also informs the whole enterprise of democracy to understand its contradictions and opportunities. Approaching the mini-public as a collaborative project opens new opportunities for analyzing its limitations and for prescribing improvements to the practices. Public deliberation as a collaborative project focuses on the activity and subsequent outcomes with benefit and consent. Leadership power is required to turn the aspiration of deliberation into reality, especially in shifting the existing structures and conventions. The challenge for the deliberative enterprise is to re-frame leaders as mediators of project collaboration rather than as political fighters.

Keywords: Activity Theory; archetypal project; collaborative project; leadership power; political fighters; public deliberation



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