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  • News Citizens' Assemblies should lean towards becoming a parallel polis - and much less a democratic figleaf for establishments, Daily Alternative (Oct 14, 2023)
  • News From a French citizens' assembly, an eyewitness report on how non-experts are their real strength, The Daily Alternative (Jan 21, 2023)

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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, 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 has found 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]

Whilst Assembly proponents can list a number of advantages W, a number of disadvantages are also identified in Wikipedia's article W.

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]

Innovating Local Democracy - Citizens' assemblies in Cambridge, Dudley and Test Valley
Authors: Involve Foundation, Jun 30, 2020
Camden Climate Crisis Citizens Assembly - Cllr Georgia Gould
Authors: CamdenCouncil, Jul 15, 2019

How to's[edit | edit source]

  • How To Run A Citizens' Assembly: Handbook,, 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 [1]
  • 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[1]

The Scottish Citizens Assembly has concluded - and one of its big proposals is a "House of Citizens", as a second chamber for Holyrood, Feb 8[2]


Cornmarket St, Oxford.jpg

If democracy looks doomed, Extinction Rebellion may have an answer, John Harris, Aug 30[3] ...Community involvement UK news

Could the Citizens’ Assembly of Scotland change how politics is done for good? Mar 20[4] ...Scotland news


When a neighbourhood assembly becomes a community by @kahui, Dec 16[5] ...Camden

How do we discover what matters most to people to help them thrive? noelito. Sep 14[6] ...Camden

See also[edit | edit source]

local information can be found, or shared, via our many location pages

External links[edit | edit source]

Citizens' assembly W includes sections on disadvantages as well as advantages.

Participatory democracy W

Deliberative democracy W

References[edit | edit source]

FA info icon.svg Angle down icon.svg Page data
Authors Phil Green
License CC-BY-SA-3.0
Language English (en)
Related 0 subpages, 21 pages link here
Impact 484 page views
Created October 8, 2019 by Phil Green
Modified August 10, 2023 by Phil Green
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