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John Gastil Portrait


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


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Topic Map

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

Group Decision Making

I have come to see how ubiquitous groups are in our world--from families to friends to workplaces to juries to the inner workings of the National Security Council or even terrorist cells.

In 2010, I published The group in society to provide a broad overview of the wider field of small group research. Later that year, I published The Jury in Democracyto examine how deliberation between jurors subsequently promoted civic engagement and political participation within the group. For a collection of my research focused on small groups and jury behavior, see Communication in small groups.

Most of my group research has focused more narrowly on how groups make decisions, particularly in groups that aspire to behave democratically. My first book--Democracy in small groups(published first in 1993 but later revised and re-published in 2014)--clarified what it means for a group to be democratic and how groups strive to make their deliberations more fair and effective. A later book-- The Australian Citizens’ Parliament-- evaluated, both quantitatively and qualitatively, a deliberative experiment conducted in Australia whichsought to, on an unprecedented scale, bring citizens and public officials together to address how the Australian political system could be reformed in a way that would make it more representative. The Democracy Machine is an ongoing project which seeks to act as a digital hub integrating a variety of deliberative tools and methods for improving the group decision-making process.

For a collection of my research focused on the intersection between governance and group decision making, specifically as it relates to protests and other social movement organizations, see Civil society and protest groups.

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