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Fast track or wrong track: Heuristics in deliberative systems

Andreas Schäfer, Humboldt University

Tue 26 February 2019

11:00am - 12:00pm

The Dryzek Room, Building 22, University of Canberra


This presentation focuses on the role heuristics can and should play within a deliberative system. Heuristics are routinely cast in opposition to deliberative practices. Whereas deliberation aims at the systematic and comprehensive exchange of information and arguments related to a specific, often complex problem, heuristics ignore (parts of) information in order to facilitate fast and frugal decision making. However, scholars have pointed to the advantages of heuristics for citizens and elites alike in making assessments and taking positions within an increasingly complex social environment. Some scholars even argue that heuristics can lead to better results than more complex procedures of decision-making, especially when complete information regarding the problem under consideration is unavailable, too costly, or contested. The question arises, then, of how the potential positive and negative effects of heuristics can be combined with deliberative approaches to political decision making. To empirically illustrate this dilemma, I draw on a research project that investigates communication strategies of political parties in an increasingly dynamic, complex and insecure media environment – one characterized by a plurality of communication platforms as well as a by a new hybridity of old and new media logics.

About the speaker

Dr. Andreas Schäfer is currently a visiting Professor for Political Sociology and Social Policy at the Department of Social Sciences at Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, where he also received his PhD in 2015. His research interests rest at the intersection between political communication and decision-making. He has investigated the role of deliberation in parliamentary decision-making and is now focusing on strategies political parties use for communication in an age of increasing communicative abundance. Related publications include “Deliberation in representative institutions: an analytical framework for a systemic approach” (Australian Journal of Political Science, 2017) and “Zwischen Repräsentation und Diskurs: Zur Rolle von Deliberation im parlamentarischen Entscheidungsprozess” (Springer VS, 2017).

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