Communication Arts & Sciences and Political Science Senior Scholar, the McCourtney Institute for Democracy
The Pennsylvania State University



Research Topic Map Civil society and protest groups Communication in small groups The Australian Citizens' Parliament Jury behavior The Democracy Machine (online platform) The Group in society Democracy in Small Groups Civic Engagment The Jury and Democracy Group Decision Making Governance Theory and Practice of deliberative democracy Political Communication and Deliberation Delib. Democracy Handbook Democracy in Motion By Popular Demand The Citizens' Initiative Review Public forums, civic education, political socialization Direct Democracy
Sortition as an alternative to elections Public opinion and civic attitudes Public Opinion and Atts. Elections Cultural Cognition Project Voter Behavior, election dynamics, and campaings

Democracy in Small Groups:
Participation, Decision Making, and Communication (Second Edition)

The second edition of Democracy in Small Groups helps you choose the democratic method appropriate to the most important groups in your life. Reading this book will help you translate abstract theories into workable principles for democratic decision making. You will learn how to overcome the most common obstacles to effective meetings. You will also see how democratic principles can improve your daily life, as well as your larger political institutions. Whether organizing a yard sale for the PTA, a political campaign, or a project team at work, this book can help you and your group make and implement better decisions while building member morale and leadership skills.

A special feature of the digital version of this book is that the references in the endnotes hyperlink back to original sources on the Internet, whenever possible. The book also links to a full bibliography at the Zotero online reference site.

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Democracy in Small Groups:
Participation, Decision Making, and Communication (First Edition)

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.

When a decision is made that involves more than one person, the decision can often be made through a democratic procedure. Whether the setting is a classroom, a community group, a family, or a senate chamber, group decision making can proceed according to democratic or undemocratic principles. Democracy in Small Groups was written for those who want a better understanding of what makes a small group democratic. People usually use the word "democratic" when critiquing or praising large-scale political systems, and scholars and activists have discussed at length the meaning of large-scale democracy. This book is one of the first to provide a detailed understanding of democracy at the small group level. This book also provides practical guidance for those who want to know how to start a small democratic group or make their current groups more democratic.

There will never be a cookbook for democracy, because humans and their social appetites are ever-changing. Nonetheless, Democracy in Small Groups provides a few cooking tips. Different groups have different experiences, but almost everyone has encountered some of the most common group problems. Exceedingly long meetings, for example, are a ubiquitous phenomenon, and they can obstruct the democratic process in many ways. Groups that wish to proceed democratically must also find ways to adapt their procedures to compensate for large memberships, time pressures, and external power constraints. Finally, Democracy in Small Groups provides ideas and suggestions for those who wish to apply the principles of small group democracy to their wider social lives and to their larger world.

The copyright on Democracy in Small Groups has reverted to me, and I have chosen to make this book available for free download. Use any of the links below to download, print, or circulate the complete book or pdfs for specific chapters.

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Chapters: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8

Small Group Exercises | Bibliography

Follow-up notes on Democracy in Small Groups: