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The Deliberative Politics of the Consultative Layer: Participation Hopes and Communication as Design Values of Civic Tech Founders


Journal of Communication

Published online on


Drawing from communication as design and the spirit of technology, this study investigated the political values embedded in consultative layer companies, with particular attention to the influence of normative deliberative democratic ideals in tech design. Interviews with the founders of consultative layer tech startups explored (a) founders' visions for their technologies and how they were incorporated, (b) the imagined user groups for these technologies, and (c) expected broader outcomes as a result of using their platforms. Six interrelated themes emerged in the analysis that illuminate ideologies, ideals, and pragmatic considerations embedded in the consultative layer, raising new theoretical and practical questions about the role of communication in understanding this emerging industry and its reimagining of government in the online space.