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Deliberative dialogue characteristics

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Cost Scale:  £25,000-£200,000
Time Scale: 6-18 months

Depth Breadth Reach
Engagement Level
High High Low


Deliberative dialogue brings together policy makers, specialists and members of the public in a facilitated conversation about policy issues. It provides the time and space for participants to develop and explain their views on an issue, including the values and understandings that underpin those views. This allows policy makers to gain a deep understanding of public views on an issue, including how those views change as part of the learning process. Deliberative dialogue can also be combined with other qualitative and quantitative tools to allow for data from a wider sample of the public to be combined with insights from in-depth engagement.


Deliberative dialogue uses creative techniques to enable participants to develop and explain their views on an issue. This can generate new thinking and allow participants to guide the direction of conversation. The deliberative nature of dialogue also allows participants to develop their views through discussions with specialists and other participants. Deliberative dialogue projects cut across a range of disciplines, themes and policy areas  to explore complex issues.


The focus on depth  and richness of discussion means deliberative dialogue does not aim to engage large numbers of participants. Deliberative dialogue programs typically involve no more than 200 participants.   

Engagement Level

Deliberative dialogue allows for an extended collaborative engagement. Groups of participants often meet on a number of occasions for whole days at a time, meaning policy makers and participants have opportunities to frame discussions.  This space allows policy makers and participants to develop their views and to collaborate in the development of recommendations. Following the completion of deliberative dialogue projects, both policy makers and participants often report high levels of engagement in the process.