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Diversity in Public Conversations

 
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What kind of diversity is most important in public conversations?
Demographic diversity (gender, age, race, socioeconomics, culture, geography, etc.)
 0%  [ 0 ]
The full range of stakeholders involved with the issue/topic
 0%  [ 0 ]
Diverse perspectives, opinions, positions, political affiliations
 0%  [ 0 ]
Diverse relevant expertise, information, life experience
 0%  [ 0 ]
Diverse psychology = personality type, cognitive style, developmental stage
 0%  [ 0 ]
The full-spectrum diversity of random selection
 0%  [ 0 ]
Whoever shows up is usually fine
 0%  [ 0 ]
It depends on our purpose for holding the conversation
 100%  [ 2 ]
Other
 0%  [ 0 ]
Total Votes : 2

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tomatlee



Joined: 06 Jul 2004
Posts: 12
Location: Eugene, OR

PostPosted: Tue Jul 13, 2004 10:11 pm    Post subject: Diversity in Public Conversations Reply with quote

What are the ways we try to ensure that we get a good representation of the public/community involved (racial diversity, political affiliation, age, etc.)? And why do we use our various approaches? What are the tradeoffs?
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tomatlee



Joined: 06 Jul 2004
Posts: 12
Location: Eugene, OR

PostPosted: Tue Jul 13, 2004 10:47 pm    Post subject: Different kinds of diversity serve different purposes Reply with quote

It seems to me that different kinds of diversity serve different purposes. For example:

If we want the general public to resonate with the deliberating group or its findings, they need to see their kind of person present in the group. In that case, demographic diversity should probably be our central concern.

If we want to help resolve a conflict or to get conflicted people to work together better, then stakeholder diversity seems vital.

If we're most concerned with a high quality outcome, then we want diverse perspectives, expertise, personality types, etc. -- things that, when they interact and integrate well, generate deeper insight. Often this involves demographic and stakeholder diversity (e.g., people from different cultures or classes have different perspectives and life experiences), but this kind of diversity doesn't necessarily involve demographics or stakeholder roles. It has a different center of gravity.

If we want to make sure there is little or no bias in the selection and/or if we believe that there are too many types of human diversity to track in a linear, bean-county kind of way, then random selection is our best bet.

If we want an atmosphere of openness and accessibility, then we should plan to include "anyone who shows up." But it would be wise to promote the event to the diverse kinds of people we want to attract so that that kind of diversity will show up.

Hmmm... what have I overlooked here....??

Ultimately, of course, we're going to get diversity whether we try to or not, simply because every human being is unique. But it is easy to overlook that diversity by seeing people through our stereotypes or not pursuing the bits of it that surface in the conversation.

The problem is, we often want to do several of these things. Then the challenges begin! We might talk here about how to navigate that realm...
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Wally Clausen



Joined: 11 Jul 2004
Posts: 12
Location: Weston, MA USA

PostPosted: Wed Jul 14, 2004 7:35 am    Post subject: Navigating that realm Reply with quote

I thank Tom for including the "it depends" option in his survey, although it will probably make the results less provocative. There are exceptions, but for me it almost always depends ,,,

In the ideal world -- or, taking a very optimistic position on human nature and the potential to engage humans in "relevant" work outside their narrow self interests -- we could accomplish differentiated goals through gatherings of various types/populations simply by making the process transparent. Andm in that transparent process, providing bridges/texts that enable transfer and flow from group to group, gathering to gathering, etc.

In that approach, a gathering of "experts" would have as one of its mandatory outcomes a "working paper" that would be accessible to "citizens in general" or "an intentionally diverse population." This working paper could be the input and framework for the gathering of citizens (or whomever). Then a working paper would be prepared from that gathering that would build on the earlier one, etc., etc.

The Internet is an ideal enabler of this kind of process involving successive groups/gatherings. On the other hand, both working papers and the Internet may exclude -- or be seen as excluding -- some populations.
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Wally Clausen
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