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Crowdsourced Deliberation: The Case of the Law on Off-Road Traffic in Finland

December 06, 2016 by Tanja Aitamurto, Hélène Landemore

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This article examines the emergence of democratic deliberation in a crowdsourced law reform process. The empirical context of the study is a crowdsourced legislative reform in Finland, initiated by the Finnish government. The findings suggest that online exchanges in the crowdsourced process qualify as democratic deliberation according to the classical definition. We introduce the term “crowdsourced deliberation” to mean an open, asynchronous, depersonalized, and distributed kind of online deliberation occurring among self-selected participants in the context of an attempt by government or another organization to open up the policymaking or lawmaking process. The article helps to characterize the nature of crowdsourced policymaking and to understand its possibilities as a practice for implementing open government principles. We aim to make a contribution to the literature on crowdsourcing in policymaking, participatory and deliberative democracy and, specifically, the newly emerging subfield in deliberative democracy that focuses on “deliberative systems.”