Some might argue that a survey of dialogue and deliberation practitioners is ironic, inasmuch as surveys themselves do not afford opportunities for dialogue or deliberation– a limitation that practitioners have tried to address through, for example, the deliberative polling strategies of Professor James Fishkin.
Why, then, a survey?
We conducted the survey as part of two separate research agendas, both of which focus on multi-method analysis of issues in the dialogue and deliberation field. Caroline Lee has completed four years of fieldwork at dialogue and deliberation conferences, trainings, and courses– and is interested in testing the extent to which the perspectives and themes she is surfacing inductively are shared across a broad group of practitioners. Francesca Polletta is interested in building on earlier findings on gender in a study of online deliberation. We plan on comparing our survey results to the insights emerging from other qualitative and quantitative methods. This triangulation of methodological strategies seeks to strengthen the validity of research findings by accounting for the limitations inherent in every research method.
Leaders of deliberation organizations and practitioners generously provided commentary and feedback on the survey in pre-testing. Despite their help, all errors and limitations of the survey are the responsibility of the researchers. Please see the Limitations section for more information regarding errors and limitations.
We had the generous help of organizations, networks, and listservs in distributing the survey to the widest possible audience of practitioners and volunteers doing work in dialogue and deliberation. These include: the National Coalition for Dialogue and Deliberation, the Canadian Community for Dialogue and Deliberation, AmericaSpeaks, Everyday Democracy, the Deliberative Democracy Consortium, the Democracy Imperative, the National Issues Forum Institute, Public Conversations Project, the U.S. and Wild Rose chapters of the International Association of Public Participation, and lists including the OD Network, the International Association of Facilitators Group Facilitation Forum, World Cafe and Wisdom Council web forums, the Appreciative Inquiry listserv, the OSList, and DOWire’s US network.
In line with human subjects protocols in sociological research, we have agreed to share the results we find with all respondents and with participating organizations and networks, and have convened a number of opportunities to present the results to members of the dialogue and deliberation community. We would be glad to provide a presentation of our results or to respond to practitioner or organization questions about the survey, the process, and the findings upon request. Please see the Presentations section of the website for more information.