Deliberation and ethnicity

Erik Schneiderhan, Shamus Khan, Jennifer Elrick

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Scholars typically suggest that deliberation, defined as communication guided by reason-giving and inclusion, works best behind a veil of ignorance or when personal differences are bracketed. In this article we explore deliberation within ethnically diverse groups. We operationalize ethnicity in three ways: as an aspect of individual identity, as an identity that is made salient through priming, and as an enactment relative to interactions in particular situations. In this way, we can explore the applicability of our previous experimental results to ethnically diverse groups. We find similar results: within ethnically diverse groups, deliberation matters; participants are more likely to reconsider their positions when deliberating than when simply talking about politics. Ethnicity has no adverse effects on the quality of deliberation, indicating that bracketing has no significant impact. On the contrary, when conceptualized as a relational enactment, ethnicity is correlated with increased levels of reason-giving and inclusion, and hence higher quality deliberation. This suggests deliberation works in multiethnic groups in much the same way as-if not better than-it does in homogeneous groups. Deliberation is a robust form of political communication that not only helps manage, but also embraces diverse subjective experiences as a part of the political process.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)791-807
Number of pages17
JournalSociological Forum
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 1 2014
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Sociology and Political Science


  • Decision-making
  • Deliberation
  • Enactment
  • Ethnicity
  • Politics
  • Relational sociology


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