John Gastil

Pennsylvania State University
Communication Arts & Sciences

240H Sparks Building
Penn State University
University Park, PA

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Nearly all of my research is derived from the core concept of deliberative democracy. Many competing models of democracy exist, and the deliberative model is both the oldest and newest. The Greeks conceived a political process in Athens that celebrated public deliberation among citizens. But in the past two centuries, the more common quasi-democratic systems have relied more on bargaining among organized interests and elites than on broad public participation. The concept of public deliberation reappeared in the United States earlier in the twentieth century, but it disappeared again, not to resurface until the 1990s. It is now common to hear not only scholars but also civic reformers and policymakers stress the importance of involving average citizens in public policy discussions. With increasing frequency, critics discuss television and newspapers as responsible for promoting a kind of "mediated deliberation," and cultural critics take note of whether a society has a "deliberative" political culture. A deliberative democracy includes all of these elements: face-to-face deliberation among citizens in public institutions, a deliberative mass media and electoral process, and a larger set of cultural norms promoting deliberation as an essential mode of discourse. Some of my research addresses the basic idea of deliberation or the design of a deliberative democracy, but I have also pursued lines of research that extend from that core concept to address five other conventional research topics, including group decision making, civic engagement, elections, public opinion, and governance.

Kahan, Dan M., Donald Braman, D., Geoffrey L. Cohen, John Gastil, and Paul Slovic. 2010. "Who Fears the HPV Vaccine, Who Doesn't, and Why? An Experimental Study of the Mechanisms of Cultural Cognition." Law & Human Behavior 34.
Gastil, John. 2008. Political Communication and Deliberation. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
Gastil, John, E. Pierre Deess, Phil Weiser, and Cindy Simmons. 2010. "The Jury and Democracy: How Jury Deliberation Promotes Civic Engagement and Political Participation." New York: Oxford University Press.

Substantive Focus:
Governance PRIMARY

Theoretical Focus:
Public Opinion PRIMARY