Deliberative assembly

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A deliberative assembly is an organization consisting of members who use parliamentary procedure to make decisions. In a speech to the electorate at Bristol in 1774, Edmund Burke described the British Parliament as a "deliberative assembly,"[1] and the expression became the basic term for a body of persons meeting to discuss and determine common action.

Robert's Rules of Order Newly Revised describes certain characteristics of a deliberative assembly, such as each member having an equal vote and that the members meet to determine actions to be taken in the name of the entire group.[2] A deliberative assembly may have different classes of members. Common classes include regular members, ex-officio members, and honorary members.


Robert's Rules of Order Newly Revised identifies several types of deliberative assemblies, including:

  • A mass meeting, which is an unorganized group meeting open to all individuals in a sector of the population who are interested in deliberating about a subject proposed by the meeting's sponsors. Examples include meetings to discuss common political concerns or community interests.[3]
  • A local assembly of an organized society, which is a membership meeting of a local chapter or branch of a membership organization.[4] Examples include local chapter meetings of organizations like the Sierra Club.
  • A convention, which is a meeting of delegates who represent constituent units of a population. Conventions are not permanently established bodies, and delegates are normally elected for only one term. A convention may be held by an organized society, where each local assembly is represented by a delegate.[5]
  • A legislative body, which is a legally established public lawmaking body. It consists of representatives chosen by the electorate. Examples include congresses, state legislatures, and city councils.[6]
  • A board, which is an administrative, managerial, or quasi-judicial body. A board derives its power from an outside authority that defines the scope of its operations. Examples include an organized society's or company's board of directors and government agency boards like a board of education.[7]

Other bodies noted in Robert's Rules of Order Newly Revised:

  • A committee is a body of one or more persons subordinate to a deliberative assembly. A committee is not itself considered to be a form of assembly.[8]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Burke, pp. 446–8
  2. ^ Robert, pp. 1–2
  3. ^ Robert, pp. 5–6
  4. ^ Robert, pp. 6-7
  5. ^ Robert, pp. 7-8
  6. ^ Robert, p. 8
  7. ^ Robert, p. 8–9
  8. ^ Robert, p. 489


  • Burke, E. (1854). The Works of the Right Honourable Edmund Burke (Vol. 1). London: Henry G. Bohn.
  • Robert, Henry M. et al. (2011). Robert's Rules of Order Newly Revised (11th ed.). Da Capo Press. ISBN 978-0-306-82020-5