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Deliberation and Democracy: Innovative Processes and Institutions

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Edited By Stephen Coleman, Anna Przybylska and Yves Sintomer

As our experience regarding the practice of deliberation grows, the position from which we evaluate it, and the criteria of this evaluation, change. This book presents a synthesis of recent research that has brought detailed and robust results. Its first section concerns contemporary challenges and new approaches to the public sphere. The second focuses on the Deliberative Poll as a specific deliberative technique and compares findings emanating from this practice in various political and cultural contexts. The third section addresses the challenge of determining what constitutes deliberative quality. Finally, the last section discusses democratic deliberation and deliberative democracy as they relate to the complex challenges of contemporary politics.
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Marcin Zgiep - Chapter Twelve. Assessing Deliberative Potential. Evaluative Dimensions of Discursive Interaction in Contemporary Democracy

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Marcin Zgiep

Chapter Twelve. Assessing Deliberative Potential. Evaluative Dimensions of Discursive Interaction in Contemporary Democracy

Introduction

One of the major dilemmas in current democratic theory is the relation between representation and participation (Urbinati 2000; Przeworski 2009). Even though there are countries with deep-rooted traditions of direct participation (such as Switzerland, individual states/cities in the USA), all contemporary democracies are representative ones. As direct rule is not possible in the long run, the quality of democratic systems relies mainly upon the functioning of indirect arrangements based on election (voting) mechanisms. In light of observed waning relations between representatives and citizenry, we face two divergent yet parallel challenges: democratic minimalism and democratic radicalism. Either democracy in a broader sense than merely electoral is unattainable, or it constitutes an ideal detached from current political patterns. However, there seems to be a more plausible solution to this problem, which comes with a different image of democracy, one that is described in terms of discursive interaction between various actors. This brings us closer to the deliberative paradigm which became in the last two decades a sound alternative not only to the practice of democracy, but also to its theory.

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