Voice of the People by James S. Fishkin
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Voice of the People
By James S. Fishkin

The Voice of the People

Public Opinion and Democracy New edition

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Format: Paperback

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Voice of the People by James S. Fishkin

Book Description

Ours is an era of stunted public discourse, where instant polls, 900 numbers, orchestrated petitions, and talk-show campaigning appear to have overwhelmed participatory democracy. What has become of the freely reasoned public debate and informed "consent of the governed" that, as cherished principle, we hold will produce better leaders and better public decisions? Where--or what--is the voice of the people todoay? In this lively book James Fishkin evaluates modern democratic practices and explains how the voice of the people has struggled to make itself heard in the past. He tells a fascinating story of changing concepts and parctices of democracy, with examples that range from ancient Sparta to America's founders to the first Gallup polls to Ross Perot. He then develops the rationale for a new method--the "deliberative opinion poll"--that uses modern media and survey research to legitimately rediscover the people's voice. Fishkin's proposal for televised deliberative opinion polls has already been realized twice by the British television network Channel 4, and he discusses its implementation in the book. In January 1996, his deliberative poll will be seen in action in a "National Issues Convention" to be broadcast by PBS on the eve of the American presidential primary season. During this broadcast, a national random sample of citizens will interact with presidential contenders in order to reflect and vote on the issues and candidates. Fishkin discusses the pros and cons of this important event, giving behind-the-scenes details about preparations for it. Here then is a compelling story of citizen deliberation from ancient Athens to the present, setting the context for future deliberative polls and related efforts to reinvigorate our public dialogue.

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Book Details

ISBN: 9780300072556
ISBN-10: 0300072554
Format: Paperback
(233mm x 155mm x 19mm)
Pages: 192
Imprint: Yale University Press
Publisher: Yale University Press
Publish Date: 1-Oct-1997
Country of Publication: United States

Other Editions...

Books By Author James S. Fishkin

Political Theory Without Borders by James S. Fishkin Political Theory Without Borders, Hardback (December 2015)

Political Theory Without Borders offers a comprehensive survey of the issues that have shaped political theory in the wake of social and environmental globalization.

When the People Speak by James S. Fishkin When the People Speak, Paperback (August 2011)

When the People Speak describes a new method of consulting the public that has been tried successfully around the world. The book combines the theory of democracy with actual practice. Fishkin lays out a theory of "deliberative democracy" and shows with practical examples, how it can be realized.

Population and Political Theory by James S. Fishkin Population and Political Theory, Hardback (February 2010)

Population and Political Theory brings together current thinking on issues at the intersection of population policy and political theory. Topics explored include population size, immigration and refugees, intergenerational justice, population characteristics and shaping children, ageing, and caring labour.

Deliberation Day by James S. Fishkin Deliberation Day, Paperback (August 2005)

Two leading political thinkers offer an audacious proposal to energise the electoral process - a new national holiday in America to be held each presidential election year, during which people engage in structured debates about issues and candidates.

» View all books by James S. Fishkin


US Kirkus Review » An extended briefing paper on a nationally televised "deliberative poll" scheduled for early 1996. Fishkin (Government/Univ. of Texas) examines the central question of American democracy: How can we adapt the "ideal of face-to-face democracy" to a country with a population of over 200 million, where the old town-meeting form of decision-making cannot be exercised on a national scale? He considers various solutions, from the republic's initial reliance on representatives elected by a monied, white male elite to today's reliance on opinion polls to gauge the thinking of millions of Americans, most of whom feel disengaged from the political process. Polling, he laments, is a "superficial form of mass democracy," reflecting the opinions of an uninformed and uninterested populace easily manipulated by sound bites and dirty campaigns. The challenge is to find a way "to promote mass deliberation . . . to bring the people into the process under conditions where they can be engaged to think seriously and fully about public issues." Fishkin's solution: a deliberative poll, in which a random sample of Americans, selected by traditional polling methods, assembles for a weekend of study and discussion. This group, now thoroughly informed on the issues, is then polled, "giving voice to the people under conditions where the people can think." The result, he contends, would be "representative of the public the people would become if everyone had a comparable opportunity to behave more like ideal citizens." Fishkin's deliberative poll will be tested early in the 1996 presidential primary season, and its process and results publicized on public television. At that point, this book will become either an important introduction to a new approach to American democracy or an interesting footnote to a failed experiment. (Kirkus Reviews)

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Author Biography - James S. Fishkin

James S. Fishkin holds the Darrell K. Royal Regents Chair in Government, Law, and Philosophy at the University of Texas at Austin, where he is also chair of the Department of Government. The most recent of his many books include Democracy and Deliberation and The Dialogue of Justice, both published by Yale University Press.

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