As I sat down to finish writing my second blog entry for “People, Spaces, and Deliberation” -- which was to be a discussion of two contrasting approaches to deliberation in the European Union in 2007 -- Anne-Katrin’s entry on John Kingdon’s
It was in Manila last week where I came across a banner headline on a major broadsheet that read “The people, not surveys, should judge (the president’s) performance." I was confused. Aren't people’s attitudes, opinions, and intentions precisely what surveys seek to measure? Aren’t surveys, in fact, meant to reflect the will and preferences of the people?
When surveys are done well and conscientiously, they provide valuable information from which we can derive knowledge helpful toward understanding people's opinions, especially on matters of public interest. Applying public opinion research techniques can also aid in improving the quality of democratic governance, particularly in coming to more informed decisions that more closely reflect citizen preferences (e.g., James S. Fishkin’s chapter in Governance Reform under Real-World Conditions).
In a previous job, I was asked to organize media training for senior technocrats in international development who would, in the course of their jobs, have to face the media from time to time to answers questions about their areas of responsibility. As I set about doing a learning needs assessment and organizing the training, I noticed a dynamic I had not reflected on before.
When you're advocating for a better understanding of the media's role in policy making and governance reform, nothing is as disheartening as a well done study that questions the media's role on the basis of sound evidence.
Almost everywhere, political leaders don't work with the strange animal known as 'the Public'. They work with 'key stakeholders' when they have to. And they prefer to decide a policy then 'consult' key stakeholders.
In the developed world, radio is a more or less dying medium. In the age of iPods, who needs to switch on a radio to listen to music? Much less to listen to political talk, which you get anywhere from your local newspaper (preferably online) to cable television (also online, of course).
Mohandas Gandhi once declared, in his inimicably insightful and economical manner that “those who say religion has nothing to do with politics do not know what religion is.” The same could be said, in obverse, of politics vis-à-vis religion. We often bemoan the paucity of concrete policy debates in an election or lampoon incumbent presidents for declaring
Having spent a considerable part of my professional and academic life thinking and writing about the public sphere, it still amazes me how nebulous this concept is, and how difficult it is to be clear about what we mean when we talk about "the public sphere.&qu
New policy and practice fields need intellectual energy; otherwise they don’t go anywhere quickly.