This Citizens' Jury on Children & Families was part of UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown's proposal for the use of citizens' juries. Five were conducted by the Department for Children, Schools and Families; this specific jury met in Bristol.
Problems and Purpose
Five citizens’ juries were conducted by the Department for Children, Schools and Families. The first jury met in Bristol on 6 September 2007 at a cost of £57,074.25 Citizens juries also have been held in London, Leeds, Portsmouth, and Birmingham. The cost of these four juries totalled £467,704. All five events were organised by Opinion Leader Research. The Department have stated that these events “took the form of deliberative forums”.
Background History and Context
In a speech on September 3, 2007, Prime Minister Gordon Brown announced his proposal for an immediate use of citizen’s juries. Various were organized by Opinion Leader Research, in different locations and on different issues.
Organizing, Supporting, and Funding Entities
Opinion Leader Research was hired to set up and run the juries, conducted by the Department for Children, Schools, and Families.
Participant Recruitment and Selection
These juries were composed of a small number of citizens (around 20) selected by a stratified random selection process to ensure a diversity of demographic criteria (e.g. age, gender, ethnicity, etc.).
Methods and Tools Used
What Went On: Process, Interaction, and Participation
Participants gather to deliberate over one day. Citizens heard evidence, cross-examined selected experts and deliberated on the question(s). At the end of the process, citizens produced recommendations in the form of a report; the sponsoring body (e.g. the public authority) is expected to respond to the recommendations.
Influence, Outcomes, and Effects
It is not clear how the recommendations or learnings were transmitted to decision makers. Some critics suggested that the juries were merely a publicity stunt; however, Brown disagreed, noting that his views had been swayed on several issues due to the recommendations of citizens’ juries. Though PM Brown claimed the citizens juries influenced his decisions, there is nothing to show that this translated into any legislation that was passed.
Analysis and Lessons Learned
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 Paulis, Emilien; Pilet, Jean-Benoit; Panel, Sophie; Vittori, Davide; Close, Caroline, 2020, "POLITICIZE Dataset", https://doi.org/10.7910/DVN/Z7X6GT, Harvard Dataverse, V1
This entry is based on the POLITICIZE dataset. More information can be found at the following links:
- Paulis, Emilien; Pilet, Jean-Benoit; Panel, Sophie; Vittori, Davide; Close, Caroline, 2020, "POLITICIZE Dataset", https://doi.org/10.7910/DVN/Z7X6GT, Harvard Dataverse, V1
- Pilet J-B, Paulis E, Panel S., Vitori D & Close C. 202X The POLITICIZE Dataset: an inventory of Deliberative Mini-Publics (DMPs) in Europe. European Political Science.