- From a French citizens' assembly, an eyewitness report on how non-experts are their real strength, The Daily Alternative (Jan 21, 2023)
A citizens' assembly is a group of people selected by lottery from the general population to deliberate on important public questions so as to exert an influence. Other names and variations include citizens' jury, citizens' panel, people's panel, mini-publics, people's jury, policy jury, citizens' initiative review, consensus conference and citizens' convention.
A citizens' assembly uses elements of a jury to create public policy. Its members form a representative cross-section of the public, and are provided with time, resources and a broad range of viewpoints to learn deeply about an issue. Through skilled facilitation, the assembly members weigh trade-offs and work to find common ground on a shared set of recommendations. Citizens' assemblies can be more representative and deliberative than public engagement, polls, legislatures or ballot initiatives. They seek quality of participation over quantity.
With Athenian democracy as the most famous government to use sortition, theorists and politicians have used citizens' assemblies and other forms of deliberative democracy in a variety of modern contexts. The OECD documented almost 300 examples (1986-2019) and finds their use increasing since 2010.
Climate assembly[edit | edit source]
The term is used here to mean any citizens assembly considering, either exclusively or otherwise, a response to climate change or climate emergency.
See also: List of climate assemblies
Disadvantages and criticism of Citizens' assemblies[edit | edit source]
A broad criticism is that whilst an assembly may involve a tiny minority of the public in a deliberative process, it doesn't necessarily allow them, or the wider public, also involvement in the design or evaluation of the process.
Another concern or criticism less often noticed or acknowledged is that Citizens' assemblies may not have any significant effect on the resources and empowerment of communities themselves, their groups and self-organised networks. In other words it is arguable that they may do little to challenge power imbalances. Citizens' assemblies have generally been conceptualized as quite resource intensive processes. For this reason it's perhaps understandable that much of the resources and learning about them has been from the point of view of local or national governments rather than local communities themselves and their ongoing learning, self development and the actualization of their agency. Generally perhaps they remain a 'done to' rather than a 'done with' thing.
For these reasons, and even though their advantages can be recognised, Citizens' assemblies are not yet regarded here as a Community Action Project.
Resources[edit | edit source]
Video[edit | edit source]
How to's[edit | edit source]
- How To Run A Citizens' Assembly: Handbook, demsoc.org/public-square, date not found, added 14:56, 19 November 2021 (UTC)
- Climate Assemblies, Democracy in action. Includes guides to help start a climate assembly on a local level.
Other resources[edit | edit source]
- The Extinction Rebellion Guide to Citizens' Assemblies 
- Basic Standards for Organising Citizens’ Assemblies, May 22, 2019 Extinction Rebellion
News and comment[edit | edit source]
Citizens Assemblies: fashionable focus groups or the great hopes of democracy? May 11
See also[edit | edit source]
- Peoples assemblies
- Climate action, Climate news
- Community involvement, Community involvement news
- Community involvement UK, Community involvement UK news
- Extinction Rebellion, XR and future democracy
- Towards a more democratic and climate friendly way of meeting housing need across England
local information can be found, or shared, via our many location pages
[edit | edit source]
Citizens' assembly W includes sections on disadvantages as well as advantages.
Participatory democracy W
Deliberative democracy W