Democratic Participation and Deliberation in Crowdsourced Legislative Processes: The Case of the Law on Off-Road Traffic in Finland

This paper, presented at a workshop at the Communities & Technologies conference, reports on a pioneering case study of a legislative process open to the direct online participation of the public. The empirical context of the study is a crowdsourced off-road traffic law in Finland. On the basis of our analysis of the user content generated to date and a series of interviews with key participants, we argue that the process qualifies as a promising case of deliberation on a mass-scale. This case study will make an important contribution to the understanding of online methods for participatory and deliberative democracy. The preliminary findings indicate that there is deliberation in the crowdsourcing process, which occurs organically (to a certain degree) among the participants, despite the lack of incentives for it. Second, the findings strongly indicate that there is a strong educative element in crowdsourced law- making process, as the participants share information and learn from each other. The peer-learning aspect could be made even stronger through the addition of design elements in the process and on the crowdsourcing software.

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