Collective Decision Making Around the World: Essays on Historical Deliberative Practices


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Is public deliberation rare? How widespread has it been? Are deliberation’s organic practices at the very core of collective decision making? Did it exist before governments developed?

The case studies included in this book, edited by Kettering Foundation program officer Ileana Marin, begin to answer these questions. The research suggests, rather paradoxically, that deliberation may have been widespread throughout the world and throughout history. Taken as a whole, the case studies also show that deliberation is both fragile and powerful. It can be destroyed by top-down politics, but like a sturdy plant, if eradicated in one area, it reseeds itself in another.

Collective Decision Making around the World includes chapters written by international colleagues of the Kettering Foundation. In spite of the challenge of finding accurate historical records, this volume contains six case studies describing deliberative practices in six countries: Albania, Cameroon, Colombia, New Zealand, Romania, and Russia. Chapters in this volume include:

  • Introduction, Julie Fisher and Ileana Marin
  • Background Paper: The Political Anthropology of Civil Practices, Noëlle McAfee and Denis Gilbert
  • Traditional Decision-Making Processes: The Case of the Baka People in Cameroon, Joseph Sany Nzima
  • Artisan Democratic Societies: Colombia, 1830–1870, Catalina Arreaza and Gabriel Murillo
  • Ancient Public Deliberation and Assembly in the Code of Lekë Dukagjini, Daut Dauti
  • Pacific Ways of Talk—Hui and Talanoa, David Robinson and Kayt Robinson
  • The Romanian Sfat: A Historic Deliberative Experience, Ruxandra Petre
  • Early Traditions of Collective Decision Making in Russia, German Artamonov and Denis V. Makarov
  • Afterword, David Mathews

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Democratic Practice Around the World

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