In the physical public forums where democracy began (the Athenian Agora, etc.), the "public conversation" was face-to-face, meaning anyone capable of hearing it was also capable of speaking into it. This meant that each citizen's engagement with the public conversation was "bidirectional" - they were constantly being informed by the thoughts of others, while inserting their own thoughts where they please. They are both speaking and being spoken to on an ongoing basis.

What's a better word than "bidirectional" to describe what I'm trying to describe here?

  • Each citizen's engagement with the public discourse was conversational, perhaps.
    – J.R.
    Nov 24, 2013 at 9:20

2 Answers 2


The better word is two-way or two-way street:

  1. allowing or entailing communication or exchange between two persons, groups, countries, etc.

  2. involving two parties or participants, as a relationship or agreement; two-sided: a two-way race for the nomination.

  3. entailing responsibilities, obligations, etc., on both such parties. (dictionary.com)


The agora was an open forum, which means that all citizen's voices could be heard at it, which I think is what you are aiming at here. (Whether something can be considered an open forum when a large number of the populace were denied citizenship, is another question).

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