Chewing the Communal Cud: Community Deliberation in Broadsheet Letters and Political Blogs

Document Type

Book Chapter


Information Science Reference


Faculty of Education and Arts


School of Communication and Arts / Centre for Research in Entertainment, Arts,Technology, Education and Communications




This chapter was originally published as: Mummery, J., & Rodan, D. (2011). Chewing the Communal Cud: Community Deliberation in Broadsheet Letters and Political Blogs. In John Yearwood and Andrew Stranieri (Eds.). Technologies for Supporting Reasoning Communities and Collaborative Decision Making: Cooperative Approaches (pp. 296-318). Location: Information Science Reference. Original book available here


Contending that media users are more than consumers and that the mass media are able to achieve more in the public sphere than simply meet market demand, Mummery and Rodan argue in this chapter that some types of mass media may in fact fulfil public sphere responsibilities. The authors demonstrate how forums such as broadsheet letters to the editor and online political blogs—despite their commonly recognised limitations due to influence by private/commercial ownership, editorship, and the requirements of authorship—may exemplify, enable and support community deliberation over issues of public concern. More specifically, via engaging with Jürgen Habermas’ conceptions of the necessary conditions for rational and communal deliberation, and critically examining recent debates in these forums, the authors argue both that these mediated forums can enable and exemplify community deliberation and, more generally, that community deliberation itself does not need to be strictly consensus-oriented to be productive.