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Abstract

This study examines how members of deliberative groups tell and respond to personal stories during their disagreements. The study provides an in-depth qualitative analysis of some online discussions hosted by AmericaSpeaks in which New Yorkers discussed how to redevelop the site of the former World Trade Center after its destruction on September 11, 2001. Participants’ stories fell into four distinct types: adversarial argument, unitary argument, introduction, and transformation. These stories helped group members build arguments, maintain or challenge their group’s collective identity, display community values, and manage their conflicts. The findings of this study indicate that deliberative theory ought to more explicitly recognize storytelling as a legitimate form of deliberative discourse. Moreover, the study of storytelling during deliberative discussion can hold implications for group facilitators and others who wish to further deliberative ideals.

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