Negotiating Deliberative Ideals in Theory and Practice: A Case Study in “Hybrid Design”


Much literature on deliberation is derived from ideal theory. However, deliberations are inevitably non-ideal in two ways: (1) many deliberative ideals are in tension with each other; and 2) intended balancing of ideals cannot be attained perfectly amidst the messiness of real-world recruitment and conversation. This essay explores both kinds of non-ideality in respect to a case study: the 2011 community deliberative processes on a state public health “biobank,” the Michigan BioTrust for Health. We follow two recommendations from major contemporary theorists of deliberation: to be transparent about how competing deliberative goals are negotiated in deliberative design; and to publicize case studies that report associated struggles and results. We present our “hybrid design” that sought to negotiate tensions within three families of deliberative goals: goals of representation and inclusion; goals of discourse-framing; and goals of political impact. We offer deliberative facilitators tentative suggestions based on this case study, concluding deliberations need not be “ideal” to be transformative.


Michigan BioTrust, democracy and science, informed consent, research ethics, biobanking, deliberation

How to Cite

Mongoven A. & Lake D. & Platt J. & Kardia S., (2016) “Negotiating Deliberative Ideals in Theory and Practice: A Case Study in “Hybrid Design””, Journal of Public Deliberation 12(1). doi:







Ann Mongoven (Michigan State University)
Danielle Lake (Grand Valley State University)

Jodyn Platt (University of Michigan Medical School)

Sharon Kardia (University of Michigan School of Public Health)





Creative Commons Attribution 4.0

Peer Review

This article has been peer reviewed.

File Checksums (MD5)

  • PDF: e1d8a1f24c094ca5e8e8c8e96225448f