Tag Archives: emotion

Citizen’s Initiative Review process: mediating emotions, promoting productive deliberation

fuji johnson-black-knoblochGenevieve Fuji Johnson, Laura Black and Katherine Knobloch

Emotion and reason are often framed as adversaries, with reason the victor. In this line of argument, emotion clouds reason and disrupts our ability to reach sound decisions.* Within the past several decades, however, scholars of decision making – and deliberation in particular – have begun to understand emotion’s more nuanced role in producing reasoned judgement.

In the context of deliberation, emotion can foster perspective taking and create bonds across difference, but it can also undermine deliberation by creating exclusionary identities and enhancing groupthink. In our recent article published in Policy & Politics entitled Citizen’s Initiative Review process: mediating emotions, promoting productive deliberation, we examine one highly structured deliberative process, the Citizens’ Initiative Review (CIR), and asks how specific design features influence the role that emotion plays in fostering or hindering informed judgement. Continue reading Citizen’s Initiative Review process: mediating emotions, promoting productive deliberation

“Negotiating Truth” – Semmelweis and the Role of Emotions in Public Policy

Anna Durnova
Anna Durnova

by Anna P. Durnová, Ph.D., Hertha-Firnberg Assistant Professor, Department of Political Science University of Vienna

Emotions are at the very core of a myriad of scientific and political disputes. Just take this famous, provocative accusation by Viennese gynaecologist Ignaz Philipp Semmelweis about his fellow physician:

“I declare before God that you are a murderer! The history about ‘childbed fever’ would not be too unfair if it remembers you as a medical Nero.”

In 1846, Semmelweis claimed that “childbed fever,” a disease that afflicted many women giving birth in hospitals, may actually result from doctors not disinfecting their hands before assisting in birthing. Since this occurred in the pre-germ theory era, his thesis grew into a vicious dispute over the duty of hand disinfection as a measure against childbed fever, over which he failed to prevail in his lifetime. Today, the story of Semmelweis is a quintessential example of a scientist who was vilified in life because of his controversial and contentious stand but celebrated in later times (as I analyse in Durnova 2015).

What does this have to do with politics?

I analyse Semmelweis’ case as a case for public policy. Although hand washing is today understood as an effective, simple, and rapid measure to reduce the transmission of germs, and has been integrated into public health agendas all over the world, in his day Semmelweis failed to communicate its necessity: he could not explain the link between doctors’ hands and childbed fever, and, moreover, his thesis was Continue reading “Negotiating Truth” – Semmelweis and the Role of Emotions in Public Policy