Dr. Robert C. Richards, Jr. recently served as co-editor for the Spring 2022 special issue of the Journal of Deliberative Democracy on “Psychological Phenomena in Democratic Deliberation.”
Formerly the Journal of Public Deliberation, The Journal of Deliberative Democracy publishes articles that shape the course of scholarship on deliberative democracy. It is the forum for the latest thinking, emerging debates, alternative perspectives, as well as critical views on deliberation.
In November 2018, Richards and one of the issue’s co-editors, Dr. David Brinker, presented papers for a program about the psychological aspects of deliberation at the National Communication Association Annual Convention. A third co-editor, Dr. Justin Reedy of the University of Oklahoma, attended the program, and the three began discussing the idea of developing a special issue of a journal on the psychological dimensions of deliberation.
A fourth co-editor, Dr. Michael Morrell of the University of Connecticut, was invited to join the editorial team due to his work as a major scholar of emotions in deliberation, a central topic in the special issue, and for his collaboration with Richards, Brinker, and Reedy on the Citizens’ Initiative Review Project, which studies a method of citizen deliberation about ballot initiatives.
“We wanted to develop this special issue because we were aware of, and wanted to draw attention to, a substantial amount of new and interesting scholarship about psychological dimensions of democratic deliberation, on topics ranging from participants’ emotions, modes of reasoning, and lay conceptions of deliberation to relational schemata, communication goals, and social learning,” Richards said.
Richards, Brinker, Reedy, and Morrell also co-authored the issue’s introductory essay. The essay summarizes key findings from prior research on psychological dimensions of democratic deliberation, and delineates recent deliberative scholarship that explores a broader range of psychological phenomena. The essay introduces six new articles that comprise the special issue, which collectively highlight innovative theorizing and empirical research in the area of political psychology of deliberation.
Finally, the special issue includes an article co-authored by Richards and Michael Neblo of The Ohio State University, “Active Is as Active Does: Deliberative and Non-Deliberative Political Communication in Context.” The article aims to advance the debate among communication theorists over whether citizens’ political communication is deliberative or non-deliberative with a new account of citizens’ political communication informed by theories of message production and sense-making: the goals–sense-making–justification (GSJ) model.
From the article’s abstract:
This GSJ model holds that citizens’ political-communicative behavior is influenced by multiple goals and cognitive plans, which generally vary in different contexts. This variation helps to explain why citizens’ informal political discussions during non-election periods rarely feature reason-giving—and so can be understood as non-deliberative—whereas such discussions during major-election campaigns often feature the reason-giving that is characteristic of deliberation. Moreover, the model demonstrates how cognitive plans developed in informal political discussions over repeated major-election cycles enable citizens to engage competently in reason-giving during formal deliberations.
Richards, who is entering his fifth year at the Clinton School of Public Service, teaches Communication Processes and Social (Ex)Change and Ethical and Legal Dimensions of Public Service. His research interests include democratic deliberation, participatory governance, and political and legal communication and information.