I started to work on sortition for more than 11 years ago. When I started, I felt really alone because it seemed that this topic interested no one on earth. At the same time this was quite exciting (“I am the first one!” feeling). But I quickly encountered many people having the same interest, and it was a very good feeling. Today it seems that the idea of random selection in politics gains growing interest not only in academia but also in the political world.
I hope that this trend will go on.
In the meantime I was able to start and finish a Ph.D. thesis. I wanted to share with you the weblink where you can download it. I wrote it under the supervision of Gil Delannoi and Gerhard Göhler at the Institut d’Études Politiques de Paris and the Freie Universität Berlin.
The English abstract reads as follows:
The field of investigation of this thesis is a corpus of texts containing proposals for the introduction of random selection schemes in politics. The thesis questions the relevance and coherence of these texts: do the publications form a theoretical ensemble that could be labelled as a “theory of aleatory democracy”? If so, do the expectations raised by its supporters remain merely utopian or do they stand the test of the political practice?
The quantitative and qualitative analysis of the text corpus leads to the conclusion that we are in fact dealing with the emergence of a theory and that the analysed authors develop a common argumentative frame and common expectations: the use of random selection in politics could be a solution to overcome the crises of liberal democracies. Its use would allow a better formal and substantial representation, a qualitatively and quantitatively increased participation, and give birth to a new, more procedural and dynamic form of legitimacy. These expectations are then tested with the help of two mini-publics, that is to say, experiments in participatory democracy that use random selection to recruit their participants: a Planungszelle and a Citizens’ Jury. The qualitative empirical investigation shows that most of the expectations are fulfilled, although only in a limited geographical, social and political frame. These results raise the double question of the conditions for the realization of the theory and of the possible improvement of the mini-public mechanisms through institutional engineering.
The text is in French and there is a short version in German.
I hope this thesis will support our discussion on sortition. And I will try to post from time to time to keep you informed of the projects I do with Missions Publiques. We are designing and facilitating Mini-Publics and there are a lot of interesting developments there.