Although there has been much speculation regarding the strengths and weaknesses of face-to-face versus online deliberative settings, no studies have systematically compared the two. Drawing on a national sample of Americans who reported deliberating face-to-face and/or online, we examine these two deliberative settings with regard to the participants, the motivations, the process, and the effects. Our findings, although tentative, suggest that the two settings are distinct in several important ways. Relative to face-to-face deliberation, online deliberation over-represents young, male, and white users, attracts more ideological moderates, generates more negative emotions, and is less likely to result in consensus and political action. At the same time, online deliberators perceived online settings as more politically and racially diverse. Implications for understanding the democratic potential of different forms of deliberation are discussed.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Sociology and Political Science