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Kimmo Grönlund

Deliberative mini-publics are controlled experiments where randomly selected lay citizens discuss political questions under specific discussion rules. These rules emphasize reason-giving, mutual respect and reflection, and trained moderators facilitate the discussion. People who take part in deliberation, change opinions and gain knowledge as a result. So far, the impact of political partisanship has not been studied systemically. Thus, this chapter compares participants in a deliberative mini-public in Finland according to their level of partisanships. Party members and people who identify themselves with a political party are compared with people with no party identity. Contrary to the hypotheses, the results show no statistically significant differences between the groups in relation to opinion change, knowledge gains or speech activity.

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Kimmo Grönlund and Kaisa Herne

The chapter provides an overview of the use of experiments in the study of democratic innovations. We focus on a specific case of democratic innovations, mini-publics, because most experiments study that institutional form. We describe first what are the typical characteristics of an experiment, and provide a classification of experiment types. After that we provide examples of mini-public experiments and go through one of them in more detail, to give the reader an idea of how mini-public experiments are conducted in practice. The detailed description concerns a mini-public experiment about nuclear power that examines the influence of the decision making method on certain output variables. After the examples, we elaborate on the challenges of experimental research paying attention to issues related to internal and external validity. We finish the chapter by providing suggestions about how to handle challenges related to experiments.