Phase 2 — Selected Findings
Because participation in Phase Two dropped in the early phases from our hoped-for 410 to participants to 230, we are still analyzing the data to determine what inferences may be soundly drawn from the smaller sample size with regard to the research questions originally framed.
Response data from the early questionnaires have already proven useful, however, in exploring two questions - the source of so-called “stealth democracy” beliefs and the impact of civic deliberation on identity formation. Specifically, the data support the conclusion that the enhancement of “citizen identity” experienced by participants in Phase I did not reverse itself in Phase II. Although face-to-face deliberation was shown to have a larger and more significant impact than online deliberation, reminders of collective identity were found also to have an impact, whether participants were deliberating online, face-to-face or not at all. Further, an integrated analysis of Phase I and Phase II questionnaires shows no correlation in this study between the participants’ political uninterest or aversion to conflict and their degree of preference for “stealth democracy.” Instead, there does appear a correlation between the intensity of “stealth democracy” preference and such socially problematic beliefs as a reverence for authority and an incapacity to comprehend the political perspectives of others. Because the data also suggest that online democratic deliberation diminishes these attitudes, public participation in e-democracy initiatives may reduce the preference for “stealth democracy.”