Keywords: Deliberative democracy - Opinion and preference - Public inquiry - Uncertainty - Fairness - Authority
The article deals with two concepts of deliberative democracy. One regards it as a means to build and express individual preferences or opinions. The other regards it as a means to perform public inquiries. Their different backgrounds are addressed. Lack of clarity about the choice between these concepts and its implications impinges upon the use and study of deliberative democracy. Issues and goals can be labelled in a same way but their understanding may be quite different. Insight comes from two Italian Citizens' Juries. Discrepancies in their design and implementation can be traced back to the adoption of different concepts of deliberation. Yet discussions show remarkable similarities. The article focuses on the treatment of issues of uncertainty and fairness, the role of authority and a "bridging effect" between various aspects of the topic at stake. In the absence of a suitable research design, interpretation of such results is conjectural. The fruitfulness of the empirical study of deliberative democracy depends on a careful description of theoretical assumptions and operationalisation of the subsequent questions.