This Is AuburnElectronic Theses and Dissertations

Impacts of National Issues Forums on Participant Efficacy and Behavior


Deliberative democracy theorists argue citizen participation is a critical aspect of democratic government. In this exploratory study, deliberative community forums created by the National Issues Forums were conducted in five communities around the state of Alabama. Data collected from post-forum questionnaires and phone interviews were used to examine the impact these deliberative forums had on participants. The main research questions in this study explored the benefits and changes forums had on citizens, levels of participant efficacy that resulted, and actions people took as a result of their participation (behavior). After analyzing the data, the study demonstrated that all three arenas were reported by participants to be impacted: 1) participants in deliberative community forums reported they benefited and changed from the experience; 2) efficacy of participants was reported to be impacted by deliberative community forums and the majority reported they felt their participation in community affairs matters (efficacy); and, 3) more than half of the participants reported they became more involved with community activities and decision, thus behavior of participants was impacted by deliberative community forums as well. The results reported by participants demonstrated support for institutionalizing deliberative community forums as a tool to solve serious problems communities face in today’s world.