Edited By Stephen Coleman, Anna Przybylska and Yves Sintomer
Marcin Zgiep - Chapter Twelve. Assessing Deliberative Potential. Evaluative Dimensions of Discursive Interaction in Contemporary Democracy
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Chapter Twelve. Assessing Deliberative Potential. Evaluative Dimensions of Discursive Interaction in Contemporary Democracy
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.
Although much has been done to clarify some of its basic assumptions and claims, the concept of deliberative democracy still remains an enigma (especially to its critics, who include on the one hand proponents of traditional liberal democracy, and on the other radical democrats inspired...
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