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Abstract

This analysis compares a consensus-oriented procedure, Princeton Future, with a more adversarial procedure, the public meetings of the Princeton, N.J. borough council, organized as public hearings. It finds that the consensus-oriented procedure failed to pick up significant conflicting interests among the citizens and as a consequence failed to provide venues for discussing and possibly negotiating those interests. It advises that deliberative democratic procedures provide for dynamic updating on the underlying and changing interest structure before and during deliberation, with particular attention to the important lines of conflict. Thus facilitators should help participants in deliberation not only forge common interests but also clarify their conflicting interests.

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