The emergence of citizen panels as a de facto standard
Au cours des dernières décennies, l’intérêt grandissant pour l’organisation de la délibération et la participation des citoyens s’est accompagné d’innombrables designs et d’« instruments prêts à l’emploi », tels que les conférences de consensus, les ateliers de scénario, les sondages délibératifs, les jurys de citoyens ou les cellules de planification. Le développement de ces « innovations démocratiques » a eu pour corollaire l’apparition d’une communauté professionnelle regroupant consultants, praticiens, décideurs et experts scientifiques, impliqués dans le design, la mise en œuvre, l’évaluation et le marketing de ces nouveaux outils. Cet article vise à comprendre comment trois innovations spécifiques (les cellules de planification, les conférences de consensus et les jurys citoyens) ont été l’objet d’une standardisation, portée par ce type de communauté professionnelle.
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The underlying project “Innovation in Governance” (grant number 01UU0906) from which this publication derives is funded by the Federal Ministry for Education and Research (BMBF), Germany. Responsibility for the contents of this publication lies entirely with the author. The author would like to thank Thomas Crowe, Louisa Grabner, Linda Soneryd and Jan-Peter Voss, the editor of this special issue and one anonymous reviewer for their support in realizing this paper.
- 1 COM (2001) 428, « European Governance. A White Paper », 2001, European Commission; M. Gramberger, (...)
1Citizen deliberation instruments are en vogue and have emerged silently over the last decades on a local, national and even international level in a wide range of policy domains, from environment and health to development aid policies. Citizen deliberation instruments are widely discussed by all of those who are involved in discourses on citizen engagement, participative governance and deliberative democracy that have reached a high level of policy resonance1. They became established as good governance tools and have therefore been accepted into the « toolbox » of policy instruments available to policy makers.
- 2 M. Saward, Democratic innovation: deliberation, representation and association, London, Routledge. (...)
2In recent decades, this has brought into being an uncounted number of « democratic innovations »2 such as consensus conferences, scenario workshops, deliberative polls, citizen juries, planning cells and participatory budgeting. Connected to this a professionalized community of facilitators, consultants, policy makers and scientific experts evolved.
3Three democratic innovations share almost an identical procedural design – planning cells, citizen juries and consensus conferences. In the late 1970s and 1980s, they emerged out of different contexts but were developed offering the same design solutions for policy problems while they were carried out in different professionalized communities and first expanded in different policy domains. Over time, they shifted towards an overlapping innovation path and turned out to be the foundation for the establishment of a new de facto standard of citizen panels.
4Often, ready-made designs are seen as being neutral instruments and efficient solutions for policy making. On the contrary, I argue that standardized designs derive from social processes of design development driven by professionalized communities.
5This is a process saturated by various interests and hidden agendas that cause unintended effects and dynamics in the innovation process of citizen deliberation instruments. Designs emerge in competition and co-existence with other designs. Activities evolve to push designs towards becoming a standard. Interestingly, the success of a de facto standard depends on its availability on the market and political legitimacy, and therefore on a complex net of interdependencies between the supply and demand sides. Therefore, this paper focuses on an under-investigated field of standardization driven by professionalized communities shaping citizen deliberation instruments. How do standardization processes take place in the innovation of citizen deliberation instruments?
6This paper is divided into three sections. First, I will introduce theoretical considerations on professionalized communities in the field of citizen deliberation instruments and on standardization of instrument designs mainly based on concepts from organizational theory. Second, the empirical case study will be presented as a historical innovation processes of the single designs of planning cell, citizen jury and consensus conference and the formation of a new de facto standard of citizen panels. Finally I will conclude by reflecting on patterns and dynamics of standardization structuring innovation processes of citizen deliberation instruments.
7One can assume that the spread of citizen deliberation instruments could be affected by local acceptance for, or resistance against, top-down implemented instruments on the one hand or the inappropriateness of institutional design on the other hand. In not neglecting these arguments, I focus here on another aspect that highlights the inherent dynamics of a professionalized community.
- 3 J. Lezaun, L. Soneryd, « Consulting citizens: technologies of elicitation and the mobility of publ (...)
- 4 J. Chilvers, « Deliberating Competence », Science, Technology & Human Values, vol. 33, n° 2, 2008, (...)
- 5 N. Rose, Powers of freedom: reframing political thought, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 19 (...)
- 6 J. Chilvers, op. cit.
- 7 T. Saretzki, « Policy-Analyse, Demokratie und Deliberation. Theorieentwicklung und Forschungspersp (...)
- 8 Ibid., p. 49; based on a talk with Mark E. Warren in 2007.
- 9 C. M. Hendriks, L. Carson. « Can the market help the forum? Negotiating the commercialization of d (...)
8One significant attribute of citizen deliberation instruments is that citizen deliberation is organized, put into designs and packaged in a standardized way, so that it can be implemented in many different contexts. Public participation experts enrolled in the formation of citizen deliberation instruments have shaping effects on the life cycle of deliberative instruments regarding their expansion, their legitimacy and their reputation. Interestingly, the increasing role of public participation experts as a substantial influence factor in itself for the construction and framing of participatory devices has still remained an under investigated issue, even though they substantially design, arrange and interpret participatory designs as nicely demonstrated by Lezaun und Soneryd3. An appreciable exception is Chilvers’ work which first pointed to « participatory process experts – so called facilitators, mediators, or moderators – who design, implement, and evaluate public engagement processes and articulate public understandings of [in that particular case] science and environment »4. Naming them, with Rose, « experts of community »5, the author observes the new political status and the increasingly influential and powerful role they have in policy-making processes they have and how they claim authority in the representation of public views through enacting participatory devices6. From another angle, Saretzki expounds the problems of their role ambiguities, and points to wider problems of instrumentalism and industrialization7. He argues that processes of professionalization and commercialization in participation contexts introduce self-interests. The increasing landscape of consultancy is seen by critics and by supporters as part of an emergent « deliberative industry »8. This points to professional service companies that have an economical interest in sustaining and expanding the forms of participation and communication they have in their portfolio. Hendriks and Carson have argued that in a « deliberative market »9, business imperatives and competition on the one hand and motivations for deepening democracy on the other hand are two sides of the phenomenon of participation professionals.
- 10 See J.-P. Voß and A. Simons, Instrument constituencies and the supply-side of policy innovation, u (...)
9Regarding the different effects of various actor groups in the making of deliberative instruments, some of them have already been under closer investigation, others less so (for instance the role of critics on the vulnerability of such a community). The particular actor group of social scientists involved in structuring participation as « spokespersons for the wider publics » and « intermediaries between government policy and the wider public » was a key focus for A. Irwin (2001). Illustrating a constituent group shaping the innovation process of a deliberative instrument, we can think of individuals and organizations such as scientists and practitioners, policy makers and policy consultants, the media, NGOs, business companies, citizens and other relevant actors. They can act in different roles such as instrument providers, adopters, stakeholders, opponents, analysts, supporters, or entrepreneurs. They design, provide expertise, regulate, trade, use, facilitate, standardize and sometimes even protect the instrument with a certificate, finance and invest, consult, inform and educate, participate, lobby, criticize or support the instrument10. For the purpose of this paper, actors who influence the standardization in the innovation process of instruments will be studied. The next section explores how designs are standardized.
10Concepts from standardization literature rooted in neo-institutionalism and organizational theory offer a useful analytical starting point to understand how design standards of citizen deliberation instruments become successful. Therefore I will first clarify here what I mean by standards and how this relates to design standards of citizen deliberation instruments. Second, I will present generic principles of how standardization can be understood as a social process linked to the circulation and expansion of standards. Finally, I will present an heuristic analysis of ideal-typical patterns of standardization linked to the chronology of innovation processes that will be used for the case analysis.
- 11 N. Brunsson et al., « The Dynamics of Standardization: Three Perspectives on Standards in Organiza (...)
11Standards are most often categorized as de facto standards and de jure standards. Both produce uniformity but differ in the way they do. While the former refers to the many standard adopters who end up adopting one model which becomes a standard over time, the latter refers to the standard setters who deliberately steer standards, often with the help of committees, and agree on certain standards11.
12In the field of the innovation process of citizen deliberation instruments, a limited set of similar design solutions has become popular and we can observe the emergence of a de facto standard of citizen panels. Although some uniformity with the general principles of citizen panels remains evident, in practice there is still a broad diversity, not just with regard to the different designs in particular and hybrids, but also in terms of quality. Therefore we can later on find quality standards for single designs and for public participation and engagement in general.
- 12 Ibid, p. 24.
- 13 N. Brunsson, B. Jacobsson, 2002, « Following Standards », in N. Brunsson, B. Jacobsson (eds.), A w (...)
- 14 S. Furusten, « Management consultants as improvising agents of stability », Scandinavian Journal o (...)
- 15 N. Brunsson, B. Jacobsson, op. cit., p. 6.
- 16 S. Botzem, S. Quack, « Contested Rules and shifting boundaries: International standard-setting in (...)
13Standardization is the result of the interaction between standardizers and adopters. The standardizers have no relevance unless there are adopters who follow their standards. And if the standardizers want their standards accepted, they have to promote them and argue that the standards are morally right or in some way beneficial for the users12. Brunsson and Jacobson elaborate on how adopters follow standards by either fulfilling the practice to fit the standard or by changing the presentation of practice. In the first version, the follower translates a generic standard into a specific context, « from talk to action »; in the second type the adopter is reporting about the existing practice with a new label and translates from « action to talk, from the specific to the general »13. In the context of citizen deliberation, instrument design standards emerge to define how deliberation can be organized in designs, and standard setters claim that those tools can be copied easily from one context to another, regardless of situational, political and cultural differences. However, abstract design models of citizen deliberation is neither solid nor set in stone, it is more of a flexible nature which emerges with different faces. Furusten14 draws attention to the local character of standards: when they are applied, « adaptation can take the form of anything from rejection to decoupling (saying one thing but doing another), translation (turning one thing into another) and improvisation (producing a unique, but recognizable version). ». A standardized design for citizen deliberation is translated into a local context with situational conditions defined by the needs of the context (for instance of a current political discourse in a certain policy domain). Actors such as organizers of deliberative practice, sponsoring contracting bodies, facilitators and the local media are involved directly and indirectly in defining and translating design standards. How local organizers interpret the abstract design and the context (who often quite flexibly use designs as hybrids with other designs and do not intend to follow a standardized design but rather adapt this to local needs) differs in relation to resources, capacities, interests, normative beliefs and their cultural embedding. So, the successful spreading of standards depends on third parties. Standards usually become more powerful through « intermediaries »15 such as corporations, states and the public opinion. Botzem and Quack highlight the political nature of international standardization with the case of accounting, in particular financial reporting16. Referring to Bourdieu, they argue that the opening up of new social spaces – and international standard setting arenas they take as such a case – give high probability for conflicts over the material and symbolic occupation of this space. Due to actors from different backgrounds with differing interests, perceptions, strategies, resources and goals interact and become involved in struggles over the perception of who the appropriate actors are, what the dominant logic of coordination should be and what the boundaries of the space are.
- 17 The concept of an innovation journey has been used and modified for this purpose by J.-P. Voß, Des (...)
14After having given some basic conceptual insights to standardization processes, I will now develop some preliminary generic mechanisms on how standards on designs become relevant in the development and the spread of citizen deliberation procedures. Neither is collection exhausting nor do all elements have the same relevance, or appear in that order in the actual case study. Rather, it guides the orientation in the innovation process of citizen deliberation process and offers, in an ideal-typical manner, assumptions on how standardization processes take place and how standards are linked to the spread and stabilization of innovations. These assumptions take into account theoretical considerations inspired by organizational theory and innovation studies mobilized for the study of policy instruments, conceptualizing how policy instruments and innovation networks develop along an imagined life cycle process from emergence over development and stabilization to expansion and decline17.
- 18 J.-P. Voß, op. cit.
- 19 S. Quack, 2007. « Legal professionals and transnational law-making: a case of distributed agency » (...)
15(1) Experimentation and the emergence of a standardized design: the early stage of the development of designs is characterized by experimentation. With the concept of an ‘innovation journey’ we can think of this period as one often starting in a niche with a gestation phase that offers conditions that allow the articulation of a design and finally the introduction of a prototype into a first application context18. In the end, it results in a robust standardized design, which offers solutions for imitation. Standardized designs as ready-made templates are a pre-condition for the spread and easy use for followers. Findings in rule-making processes in other fields sustain the assumption, however, that standardized designs of citizen deliberation instruments appear usually less strategically and systematically, but incidentally within an experimenting phase where designers test designs to find an organizational solution to a deliberative task19.
- 20 Czarniawska and Joerges explain how ideas travel from local contexts to local contexts in translat (...)
- 21 K. Sahlin-Andersson, « Imitating by editing success: The construction of organizational fields », (...)
16(2) Standard profiling and attracting standard followers: standards develop their impact by attracting potential followers to use and imitate their standard. Concepts such as ‘travel of ideas’ give an idea of how standards could become mobile when they spread in a contagion process from niches to broader application contexts.20 Therefore, the design standard has to be packaged and edited in a manner that offers solutions to the followers’ problems and that clearly points out unique selling points of the design standard to be more attractive than others21. One can assume that, in this process of standard profiling, designers focus on their single design standard.
- 22 J. Black, Regulatory innovation: a comparative analysis, Edward Elgar Pub, 2005.
17(3) Sustaining legitimacy of design standards: design standards gain popularity and reputation when designs are legitimate. This can be through scientific justification of the inherent principles and mechanisms of a design standard on the one hand and social acceptance in the field of policy making as another example on the other hand. Potential standard followers can adopt, modify or resist them. They resist if they do not accept the legitimacy claims. But legitimacy construction processes as Black describes them can interfere with each other22. Translated to the field of deliberative designs aiming at qualifying democratic processes, these design standards can become a vehicle for hidden political interests and meanings and their reputation can be in danger, depending on the societal acceptance of these other interests and meanings.
- 23 M.L. Djelic, S. Quack, Transnational communities: Shaping global economic governance. Cambridge Un (...)
18(4) Professionalized (transnational) networks as important intermediaries for branching out within and through governance domains: experts and consultants are important carriers from local experimentation to transnational expansions23. In the field of citizen deliberation instruments, this could mean that diverse professionals serve as a constituency that shapes the spread. They circulate standards in their transnational interaction for instance via formal and informal networks, design trainings and exchange at conferences.
- 24 Idem.
19(5) Self-governing with meta-standards: in periods in which dominant design standards dwindle, strategic standard-making in the professional field of related designs can become crucial24. Quality standards related to concrete designs or related to abstract principles for good practice can integrate the professional field on a more abstract level. From that results the assumption that quality standards can serve as meta-standards that help to regulate and potentially homogenize a diverse field of practice.
- 25 M. Brown, Science in democracy: expertise, institutions, and representation, Cambridge Mass., MIT P (...)
20Out of a perspective on standards and their effects on the innovation process of policy instruments, this case offers interesting insights into how related design developments establish to some extent de facto standards of citizen panels and spread successfully through various policy domains and geographical contexts. Insights into the construction of design standards illustrate how professionalized communities shape the innovation path when they define, frame and reframe instrument design developments. Citizen panels25 are established in many different geographical and policy field contexts and became prominent between the mid-1990s and mid-2000s in many different variations around the world, when deliberative democracy and good governance become a new paradigm in policy making. Citizen panel designs share the same basic features: small group deliberation, random selection of participants, integration of external expertise and the production of a common recommendation for public decision-making. They all address the gap of institutional solutions for the integration of citizens in established systems of representative democracy. Looking for origins of citizen panels, I found an interesting triple of deliberative designs (planning cell, citizen jury and consensus conference); which appeared with an astonishing similarity in their organizational designs between the late 1960s and the early 1980s in the US, Germany and Denmark. They emerged without direct relations in different countries and in different « peer groups » and « peer policy domains » as urban planning, evaluation of political candidates and science and technology assessment. Over time, they started to share application contexts and issues of deliberation and became accepted as a standard option for policy making.
21This historical case study is based on literature reviews of secondary literature categorizing and evaluating citizen panels, an analysis of documents concerned with designs (such as manual and handbooks for designs) and on a preliminary analysis of 28 interviews with experts involved in the professional community.
22The design standardization process will be presented in two phases, starting with the independent emergence of the three designs of planning cell, citizen jury and consensus conference. This will be followed by an overlapping expansion of the designs including a heterogeneous diversity of standard adoptions in practice that opens out into formulation of quality standards to regulate the legitimacy of citizen panels.
- 26 P. Dienel, « Wie können die Bürger an Planungsprozessen beteiligt werden? Planwahl und Planungszel (...)
- 27 P. Dienel, Die Planungszelle: der Bu?rger als Chance mit Statusreport, Wiesbaden, 2002, p. 281; P. (...)
- 28 P. Dienel assembles a network of related scholars and supportive politicians Cf. P. Dienel, O. Ren (...)
23Germany is the place of origin of a new procedure called planning cell which was set up through the practice of urban development planning and the rethinking of planning and participatory policy making in administrations in North-Rhine Westphalia. Out of criticism of the limitations of representative democracy, Peter Dienel, Professor of Sociology at the University of Wuppertal, developed a new model that claimed to control representatives in politics and state bureaucracy. He articulated a model for planning cells in a paper in 1971 as well as in a book in 1978, suggesting a research agenda for procedures of participation and introducing the preliminary design of the planning cell26. The design was tested and redefined in first prototypes on local (1972, 1975) and national level (1984)27. Relevant design specifications were defined (over a period of four days and the final report called « Bürgergutachten »). Early efforts of conceptual and evaluative research to strengthen the plausibility, effectiveness and legitimacy of the design accompanied the practical experimentations.28 The implementation of the planning cell started to prosper from the early 1990s and its facilitation became a growing business attracting new consultancies and private spin-offs from Dienel’s professional environment (Citcon Bonn (1994), Citcon Spain (1995), Nexus (2000), Gesellschaft für Bürgergutachten (2001)). Competitiveness in the newly created market and rivalry surrounding the proper interpretation of the design escalated during the registration of a trademark for planning cells by Citcon Bonn. Having regulated the use of the label planning cell, the second term « Bürgergutachten » was established: societal acceptance was much broader than for the term « planning cell ». Based on strategic alliances with political leaders of federal states to sound new implementation contexts, planning cells expanded in Germany and became a widely respected instrument for public decision-making (Bavaria 2002/2003 on consumer protection, 2004 on health care, 2008 on the future of Bavaria, Rheinland Pfalz on administration reform 2008). The planning cell design was adopted in various international contexts between the mid-1990s and mid-2000s. The most prominent transfers occurred – inter alia – in Spain on conflictive issues in the Basque country, and in Japan. The development and distribution of the planning cell design were driven by a small (partly international) professional community that closely focused on the single design improvement and expansion, dominated by one charismatic leader, alternating destructive internal competitiveness and productive co-existence, sharing the ambition to diffuse the design standard widely.
- 29 A. Vergne, « Généalogie et diffusion du modèle Planungszelle – Citizens Juries. Une étude diachroni (...)
- 30 Jefferson Center, History of Citizens Jury, official website, 2010.
- 31 N. Crosby, « Peter C. Dienel: Eulogy for a Deliberative Democracy Pioneer », Journal of Public Del (...)
- 32 J. Stewart, A. Coote, E. Kendall, Citizens’ juries, Institute for Public Policy Research, 1994; A. (...)
- 33 T. Wakeford, P. Bryant, M. Pimbert, J. Singh, Jasber, B. Murtuja, « The Jury is Out: How Far Can P (...)
- 34 BBC NEWS, « Brown defends new citizen juries », 2007, URL: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/poli (...)
- 35 IPPR, « A new dawn breaks », 2007, URL: http://www.ippr.org.uk/articles/?id=2795 (Accessed October (...)
- 36 T. Wakeford et al., op. cit.
- 37 M. P. Pimbert, T. Wakeford, « Prajateerpu: a Citizens Jury. Scenario Workshop on Food and Farming (...)
24The background of the citizen jury focused on criticisms on the existing democratic system and the lack of adequate procedures and institutions to strengthen the opportunities for citizens to express their views in representative democracy. In the U.S. state Minnesota, Ned Crosby, a scholar of political philosophy, founded, together with colleagues, the Center for New Democratic Processes in 1974 with the ambition to develop new democratic processes (the center was later renamed as the Jefferson Center for New Democratic Processes). From the early 1970s, he and his staff began with abstract formulations of deliberative designs and experimental implementations. Therefore the idea and format of juridical juries was borrowed, with citizens playing the role of jurors and experts being heard as witnesses. The procedure became defined as a citizen jury only in the late 1980s after other insufficient labels29. The first implementations took place in Minnesota in 1974, focusing on the health care system in the USA and in 1976 on the evaluation of the political presidential candidates Ford and Carter. Core design features from the beginning were the random selection of the participants to represent a socio-demographic structure of the society and evaluations of external expertise by the citizens. Through the cooperation with the Women Voters League of Pennsylvania and New Jersey, the citizen jury spread from Minnesota to other states in 1992 and 1993. The label « citizen jury » was registered as a trademark in 1993, allowing this method to have a monopoly on the US market. Justifying their procedure, they argued: « By maintaining such high standards, the Jefferson Center is able to ensure that the Citizen Jury process retains a high level of integrity and trustworthiness »30. In 1985, after almost 15 years of existing side-by-side, the developers of planning cell and citizen jury contacted one another and started a continuous exchange31. The issue of candidate evaluation provoked resistance from policy makers, ending in a political and judicial conflict about the legal charity status of the Jefferson Center between 1993 and 1996 that could only be solved by a withdrawal from candidate evaluation, the most popular issue for a citizen jury so far. At the same time, the citizen jury started to prosper in the UK. The Institute of Public Policy Research (IPPR) connected the pre-works from Dienel and Crosby and labeled it Citizens’ Jury. They included the design features from both design models, ignoring the trademark of the Jefferson Center. A great expansion of the citizen jury followed. Two widespread publications of the IPPR32 became carriers used by diverse adopters to implement the design. About 500 citizen jury-type exercises were conducted on health, genetically modified organisms, education and television33, and mainly conducted by IPPR, research institutes and marketing agencies. The range of commissioning bodies grew to include local governments and health authorities, NGOs, regulatory bodies. The government under Prime Minister Tony Blair became interested, and in 2007 Gordon Brown « ennobled » the citizen jury as an essential part of « new types of politics »34. The government, using the procedure for legitimacy creation, compromised the credibility of the procedures, and the appearance of newly professionalized consultants and market actors using the procedure for market research provoked skepticism35. The design travelled to new destinations (among others Australia, the Netherlands, Italy and India) and was adapted to local specifics. Changes in the design often followed the logic of « anything goes » which was criticized by several scholars36, and also reflected in controversies on the proper use of designs37.
- 38 L. Soneryd, « The spread of ideas and the travel of « public deliberation » methods », Conference (...)
- 39 M. Horst, A. Irwin, « Nations at Ease with Radical Knowledge: On Consensus, Consensusing and False (...)
- 40 Idem.
- 41 S. Joss, J. Durant, Public participation in science: the role of consensus conferences in Europe, (...)
25A precursor to the consensus conference was the US Medical Consensus Development Conference, expert based, exclusively used in the health sector and which relocated to Denmark in 1983. Bo Carstens, later director of the newly established Technology Board used the design and undertook a first experimental implementation in 1986 on hybrid network technology. It was not yet a regular citizen panel; instead, academics and stakeholders took part as participants.38 The center-left majority in the Danish parliament established a new Technology Board, later replaced by the Danish Board of Technology, with the purpose of stimulating a « broad public debate » on technological issues39. Here, the design implemented was a citizen-based consensus conference for the particular use of science and technology, as welcomed by the Danish political culture in the late 1980s40. From the beginning of the 1990s, in a time of greater public skepticism towards technology and science caused by BSE and other scandals, the demand for involving citizens’ views and retrieving the trust of the public increased. The design of the consensus conference was adopted widely on matters of controversial science issues and in particular related to policy issues such as genetically modified food and biotechnology, health policy, environment policy, technology policies. The method spread first in Europe and then on other continents through technology assessment related networks, being adopted by parliamentarian technology boards and institutions focusing on science and society (e.g. Science Museums), which in turn adapted them to their national and cultural conditions41. Mainly the term « consensus » was contested because the notion of constraints towards consensus contrasts with understandings of open dialogue. Variations are chosen such as citizen panels (UK), Burger forum (NL), Conférence de citoyens (F), Publiforum (CH) and Bürgerkonferenz (D). The main reference for consensus conference designs was the 1995 publication « Participation in Science » by Joss and Durant which evaluated the first experiences from European countries. At the same time criticism emerged. Consensus conferences were blamed to be strategic trials to create societal consensus which did not exist. Sometimes they were questioned as populist approaches to perform « democracy shows » to react to the crisis of democratic institutions (Joss 2003: 31).
26In the early period of developing a standardized, robust and stable design, all three designing processes were dominated by a problem-oriented trial-and-error experimentation. This was followed by the refining of labels and the editing of the framework of designs in response to the feedback of design adopters. All single design communities focused on the placement of their design, in particular policy domains (planning cell and citizen jury related to public policy, consensus conference in science and technology related). In order for the designs to spread further, political allies turned out to be relevant and affected in different ways the legitimacy of the designs (supportive in the case of planning cell, conflictive in the case of the citizen jury and its critical confrontation with political leaders and ambivalence with the exploitation by the government). Professional communities are sometimes less internationally oriented (planning cell), sometimes more (citizen jury and consensus conference), thus affecting the transnational spread.
- 42 OECD 2001, op. cit.; H. Banthien, M. Jaspers, A. Renner, Governance of the European Research Area: (...)
- 43 M. Brown, op. cit.
- 44 J. Elster (eds.) Deliberative democracy, Cambridge University Press, 1998 ; M. Hendriks, L. Carson (...)
27None of the single instrument designs gained dominance and replaced the others; instead they developed efforts to continue to spread with design modifications, hybridization and filling the demand of single policy domains. These designs co-existed, or became exchangeable and their professional communities partly cooperated, partly avoided exchange. In a manner of distributed agency and with the help of the parallel expansion of these designs, the core design principles became accepted in policy making and were integrated into the « toolbox of policy instruments »42. They became reflected as similar forms for citizen deliberation and were referred to as citizen panels43 or deliberative forums44. Observers categorized a vague transnational standard of citizen panels with multiple occurrences: a loose net of multiple designs available as a standard option for policy making.
28The divergent publicity and therefore availabilities of the different designs for standard users and the varying acceptance of legitimacy claims of standard promoters who advertised their designs with different rationales caused the diversity and fragmentation of standard practices. The European Union became a prominent arena for implementation of the citizen panels. Research and political programs supported the establishment of citizen panels, and European networks of public participation professionals were involved in the implementation of new superlative formats of citizen panels (European Citizen Panel 2003/2004, Meeting of Minds 2005/2006, European Citizen Consultations 2007 / 2009).
- 45 L. Carson, op. cit. ; L. Bobbio et al., op. cit.
- 46 M. P. Pimbert, T. Wakeford, op. cit.; A. Stirling, op. cit.
29With the help of growing reception and acceptance by legitimate authorities, the imitation of design followers increased further. At the same time the diversity of new related designs intensified and the wide range of practices made it impossible to overview the ramification of design developments and to overcome the mode of endless experimentation. This development opposed the domination and exclusivity of one model and gnawed on the contours of the definition of citizen panels. The acknowledgement of « not one size fits all » solutions became more established and recognized that hybrids, but also other designs, such as deliberative polling or scenario workshops did a successful job for the diversity of tasks and purposes of deliberative democracy. Criticism and controversies within the professionalized communities on designs and their proper use dismantled the credibility and legitimacy of standards and led to reinterpretations of existing design rules. Examples included controversies on the correct implementation of citizen juries in Italy which became a dispute among the organizers and observers in the Journal of Public Deliberation45 and on the role of « representation » in a hybrid version of a citizen jury in India documented in the Journal of PLA notes46.
- 47 N. Bach, L. Dienel, R. Fuhrmann, A. Vergne, Gute Beteiligung – Qualitätskriterien für das Beteilig (...)
- 48 National Coalition for Dialogue and Deliberation 2010.
- 49 A. Fung, M. E. Warren, « The Participedia Project: An Introduction », International Public Managem (...)
30Quality standards introduced a new form of standardization and regulation. They became important after procedures already existed for a while and heterogeneous practices evolved. This has been a process to regulate the diversity of practices in the field of planning cells47 and also on a meta-level for participation practices. Here, self-governing by developing a code-of-conduct aimed to increase the credibility and reputation of the business. One of the most recent examples to gain back legitimacy and credibility is the Initiative for Core Principles in Public Engagement in the US from May 2009 with more than 20 leading US organizations and international organizations48. Another example of quality control is an initiative started by scientific scholars who created a web-based knowledge platform where practitioners and scientists report about their implementations as case studies and have to follow certain reporting standards49.
31From the beginning, standardizers have tried to increase the legitimacy of their designs with scientific validations and testing and linking up with theoretical claims of the deliberative democracy discourse (for instance the International Association for Public Participation).
32To a certain degree, the plurality of standard implementation might be seen as pushing the net of interrelated designs forward. At the same time the plurality of standard implementation prevents a stronger authority of a unified global standard, because the diversity ends in a confusing fragmented landscape of modified and hybridized designs and practices.
33Standardization processes are an ongoing driving force for innovation. Standards play a relevant role in the consolidation, stabilization and institutionalization of innovation processes. How does standardization take place? Different types of standard-setting can be observed. Incidental standard production can be detected in the early stage developments of the instruments. The instruments develop a profile through first technical design rules which are examined as prototypes in first testing applications and established towards standards when accepted by their followers. Then, standards are usually distributed with the help of documents that fix the knowledge of the professionalized community. Typically, they are documented in handbooks and manuals, reports on applications, evaluation reports, academic books and press releases. Already from the outset, design rules of citizen jury, planning cell and consensus conference were defined in key early publications which occurred after an initial period of trial–and–error processes with a few applications. More formalized standard setting – installing quality standards – occurs after a significant number of applications have been conducted to clarify the profile, maybe even to establish and to legitimize the design in a certain context. The regulation of standards varies in terms of its restrictions. While standards are often available for open access, restricted standard setting binds them in trademarks. Introducing trademarks turns out to potentially limit greater expansion (trademark on citizen jury in US, and the interim trademark on planning cell in Germany).
34Standardization dynamics are multilayered. Standardization is an ongoing fragile and non-linear process of gaining dominance and losing relevance and can be affected by many external influences such as a credibility crisis because of emerging critics (for instance criticism against the use of the citizen jury in UK), competing designs in a limited market space or even being confronted with drastic restrictive measures (for instance the legal dispute between Jefferson Center and the state of Minnesota).
35It seems that there are alternating periods and spaces of standard setting and standard revising through heterogeneity in practices and critical reflections in theory. Especially local adaptation demands driven by political and cultural influences break the spread of strict standards. Diverging local interpretations for complying with local demands and practices of designs and redevelopments of designs characterize the ongoing innovation process of citizen deliberation procedures. However, standardization is a requirement for spread –especially in the development phase but also after time periods of diverging applied practices and decreasing legitimacy of designs tendencies to gain back reputation with the help of self-governance by quality controlling can be observed (quality standards for single design standards or for the whole branch of deliberation practices and reporting practices).
36Experts and consultancies, practitioners and social scientists shape the emergence and development of citizen deliberation instruments. This overall professionalized community on deliberative procedures is fragmented into (partly overlapping) communities that specialize on one particular design or follow one particular « school » (such as planning cell, citizen jury or consensus conferences) and related hybrids. It is their distributed activities which push deliberative engagement of citizens as an innovation in governance and it is they who invest the work that is needed to construct the instruments that can convince and guide policy makers (so there is an element of supply push besides demand oriented explanations of policy change via policy choice). In particular in the process of international expansion, professional transnational networks play a crucial role, the level of organization and professionalization increases, as well as the degree of internal differentiation of these communities.
37The process of ongoing standardization in the field of citizen deliberation procedures involves the continuous struggle between on the one hand engineering procedural designs and on the other hand the generic understanding of what these practices of engaging citizens in deliberation actually are, what purposes they serve, how they need to be carried out in order to serve the normative principles they refer to and produce the effect that they promise. Rivalling designs for similar purposes and similar application contexts compete and might trigger cooperation as well as constructive but also destructive competition. It can either shape the spread in the variety and range from the further expansion of a set of related designs as a division of labor that mobilizes a broader design push, or it can hinder a further expansion, should an internally-oriented competition (including disqualifying other designs, searches for new differences to get distance to other designs, manipulative tactics against competitors) absorb energy that slows down activities aiming at a further de facto spread of design standards.
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6 J. Chilvers, op. cit.
7 T. Saretzki, « Policy-Analyse, Demokratie und Deliberation. Theorieentwicklung und Forschungsperspektiven der « Policy Sciences of Democracy » », in F. Janning, K. Toens (eds.) Die Zukunft der Policy-Forschung. Theorien, Methoden, Anwendungen, Wiesbaden, VS-Verlag für Sozialwissenschaften, 2008, pp. 49-51.
8 Ibid., p. 49; based on a talk with Mark E. Warren in 2007.
9 C. M. Hendriks, L. Carson. « Can the market help the forum? Negotiating the commercialization of deliberative democracy », Policy Sciences, vol. 41, n° 4, 2008, pp. 293–313.
10 See J.-P. Voß and A. Simons, Instrument constituencies and the supply-side of policy innovation, unpublished / forthcoming in 2012.
11 N. Brunsson et al., « The Dynamics of Standardization: Three Perspectives on Standards in Organization Studies », Organization Studies, vol. 33, n° 5-6, 2012, p. 617.
12 Ibid, p. 24.
13 N. Brunsson, B. Jacobsson, 2002, « Following Standards », in N. Brunsson, B. Jacobsson (eds.), A world of standards, Oxford, Oxford University Press, pp. 127-139.
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18 J.-P. Voß, op. cit.
19 S. Quack, 2007. « Legal professionals and transnational law-making: a case of distributed agency », Organization 14(5):643.
20 Czarniawska and Joerges explain how ideas travel from local contexts to local contexts in translation processes. B. Czarniawska, B. Joerges B., « Travels of ideas », in B. Czarniawsk, G. Sevon (eds.), Translating Organizational Change, Berlin, New York, Walter de Gruyter, 1996, pp. 13-48.
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26 P. Dienel, « Wie können die Bürger an Planungsprozessen beteiligt werden? Planwahl und Planungszelle als Beteiligungsverfahren », Der Bürger im Staat, Heft 3, p. 153.
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28 P. Dienel assembles a network of related scholars and supportive politicians Cf. P. Dienel, O. Renn, op. cit.
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30 Jefferson Center, History of Citizens Jury, official website, 2010.
31 N. Crosby, « Peter C. Dienel: Eulogy for a Deliberative Democracy Pioneer », Journal of Public Deliberation, vol. 3, n° 1, article 7, 2007, p. 1.
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34 BBC NEWS, « Brown defends new citizen juries », 2007, URL: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/politics/6980747.stm (Accessed October 8, 2010).
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36 T. Wakeford et al., op. cit.
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43 M. Brown, op. cit.
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45 L. Carson, op. cit. ; L. Bobbio et al., op. cit.
46 M. P. Pimbert, T. Wakeford, op. cit.; A. Stirling, op. cit.
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48 National Coalition for Dialogue and Deliberation 2010.
49 A. Fung, M. E. Warren, « The Participedia Project: An Introduction », International Public Management Journal, vol. 14, n° 3, 2011, pp. 341-362.Haut de page
Pour citer cet article
Nina Amelung, « The emergence of citizen panels as a de facto standard », Quaderni, 79 | 2012, 13-28.
Nina Amelung, « The emergence of citizen panels as a de facto standard », Quaderni [En ligne], 79 | Automne 2012, mis en ligne le 05 octobre 2014, consulté le 25 avril 2017. URL : http://quaderni.revues.org/616 ; DOI : 10.4000/quaderni.616Haut de page
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