Why do people change their minds? Evidence from 3 citizens' juries deliberating on-shore wind farms in Scotland

Thompson, A. and Escobar, O. and Roberts, J. and Elstub, S. and Pamphilis, N. (2015) Why do people change their minds? Evidence from 3 citizens' juries deliberating on-shore wind farms in Scotland. In: Political Studies Association Annual Conference 2015, 2015-03-30 - 2015-04-01.

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Citizens’ juries are the most common technique in the panoply of deliberative methods employed within mini-publics to offer direct forms of democratic engagement. They provide opportunities for learning, reflection and deliberation on contentious public policy issues. This paper presents evidence of how jurors’ opinions change in these different phases on the topic of on-shore wind farms arising from three citizens’ juries in Scotland (n=47), one with an established wind farm, one with a planned development, and one with no plans for one in the foreseeable future. The jurors were invited to consider issues to do with national energy policy and climate change, energy generation, wind power and the specifics of wind farms, such as their environmental and social impact. Evidence was constructed through an extensive process involving mixed methods. This included a quantitative analysis of survey responses at four different time points; viz. before and after each of two days of meetings, separated by a two to three week interval, in each locality. Complementary qualitative analysis was carried out on ethnographies, evaluation reports, and documentation produced during the workshop sessions. This paper will provide a statistical panel analysis of the changes in jurors’ opinions regarding different aspects of wind farms in relation to the four time points to gauge to what extent substantive changes were associated with the learning, reflective and deliberative phases. This will be supplemented by qualitative analysis to draw complementary understanding about the meanings of such attitudinal changes.