Creating Dialogue and Deliberation in a Polarized Political Climate

In the aftermath of the United States presidential election, bitter partisan divides have resulted in protests, hate crimes, riots, and other forms of strife across the country. Within the political system, polarization has had a serious effect: the most partisan members of the public are less likely to support compromise, and are more likely to have a disproportionate impact on electoral politics (e.g. primaries). Calls for unity and healing expect people to instantly look beyond months, even years, of deeply adversarial political discourse which frames the “other” as fundamentally different.

How can we have better and more productive conversations about politics that don’t seek to attack and defend, but to understand? In contrast to the extreme, winner-take-all nature of political discourse in the US, our friends at the National Coalition for Dialogue and Deliberation (NCDD) define these concepts as follows:

Dialogue is not about winning an argument or coming to an agreement, but about understanding and learning. Dialogue dispels stereotypes, builds trust and enables people to be open to perspectives that are very different from their own. Dialogue can, and often does, lead to both personal and collaborative action. Deliberation is a closely related process with a different emphasis. Deliberation emphasizes the importance of examining options and trade-offs to make better decisions.”

In Conversation With Graham Smith

Each month, PlaceSpeak presents a Q&A with experts in public engagement and civic technology.

This month, we spoke with Graham Smith, Professor of Politics and Director of the Centre for the Study of Democracy (CSD) at the University of Westminster. He is the author of Democratic Institutions: Designing Institutions for Citizen Participation. His main research interests focus on democratic theory and practice and environmental politics. Graham is on the Executive Board of Participedia and Chair of the Foundation for Democracy and Sustainable Development.

In Conversation With Dinorah Cantú-Pedraza

Each month, PlaceSpeak presents a Q&A with experts in urbanism, public engagement, and civic technology.

This month, we spoke with Dinorah Cantú-Pedraza, who coordinates the GovLab Academy – an online institute aimed at helping government and social innovators take innovative projects from idea to implementation. A lawyer by training, Dinorah founded and directed the Human Rights Center of the Facultad Libre de Derecho de Monterrey prior to moving to New York in 2012. Under her direction, the Academy has worked with over five hundred innovators from more than 30 countries online and off over the last two years.

3 Myths about Accessibility and Online Citizen Engagement

Recently, President Barack Obama said that filing taxes should be “at least as easy as ordering a pizza or an airline ticket.” Citizens are increasingly demanding accessible, convenient methods of accessing services and engaging with decision-makers. Online citizen engagement is at the forefront of this trend: people can participate online 24/7, at their own leisure, be it during their lunch break or five minutes before bed. With the growing prevalence of online citizen engagement, there are several myths about accessibility and inclusion that need to be debunked.

3 Governments Pioneering Digital Identity Authentication

PlaceSpeak has long pioneered the use of digital identity authentication for public consultation, ensuring that proponents are hearing from real, relevant people. Now, governments are starting to realize the importance of digital identity verification for online service delivery.

As people are increasingly expecting to access government services online in their own time, while ensuring the same rigour and security from an in-person experience, digital identity authentication will become the next big challenge for governments. Here are a few examples of how governments are tackling this crucial issue.