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Beyond the Divide: An Attempt to Reconcile Constructivist and Rational Choice Views on Deliberation in Europe

Cecile Hoareau

Does deliberation change its participants' opinions? Deliberation means an open and mutual exchange of arguments of at least two people on a particular policy issue with a view to take a decision on that issue.According to Neyer (2006), a "deliberative turn" has taken place in European studies. With the growing use of coordinative policies (OMC), understanding deliberative processes provides valuable information regarding the workings of European policy.This paper provides the first attempt to use a survey-based methodology to analyse the impact of deliberation on participants' opinions. It focuses on the results of a retrospective survey of 155 participants to various Bologna Process deliberations from 45 countries. The survey principally looks at the impact of deliberation on participants' opinions, more precisely factual perceptions and preferences, on topics of concern to European higher education policy. This paper looks at: a) whether a change occurs over the time spent in deliberation, b) whether this change can be assimilated to a convergence countries of Europe, and c) whether institutional factors, such as the function and organisation of participant influence their experience of deliberation.

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