Discussion structures as tools for public deliberation

Eugen Octav Popa*, Vincent Blok, Renate Wesselink

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


We propose the use of discussion structures as tools for analyzing policy debates in a way that enables the increased participation of lay stakeholders. Discussion structures are argumentation-theoretical tools that can be employed to tackle three barriers that separate lay stakeholders from policy debates: difficulty, magnitude, and complexity. We exemplify the use of these tools on a debate in research policy on the question of responsibility. By making use of discussion structures, we focus on the argumentative moves performed by the parties involved in this debate. We conclude by discussing advantages and limitations of discussion structures and we trace several opportunities for further research on these instruments.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)76-93
JournalPublic Understanding of Science
Issue number1
Early online date18 Oct 2019
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2020


  • analysis of policy discussions
  • discussion structures
  • public engagement in policy debates
  • responsible research and innovation

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  • Projects

    RiConfigure: Reconfiguring Research and Innovation Constellations


    Project: EU research project

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