Deliberative Democracy and the Problem of Power
The authors review the conventional critiques of deliberative democracy, saying they must be addressed if deliberative democracy is to have a meaningful place in modern political and policy governance.
Specifically, they point to criticisms that deliberative democracy simply entrenches rather than addresses unequal power relations.
Individual and interest groups, it is argued, that have the resources and wealth to dominate liberal democracy are likely to also dominate the processes and outcomes of deliberative democracy, particularly given the latter requires the ‘luxury’ of time-consuming deliberation to which many ordinary citizens do not have access.
The authors suggest a range of potential solutions, including ensuring that groups that have a major stake in the outcome of policy which is the subject of deliberative forums do not set up or oversight the process.
It also means, according to the authors, that those participating in these forums genuinely represent a cross-section of voices, including those usually marginalised from political and policy decision-making.
Thumbnail image: Sebastiaan ter Burg/Flickr.