Listening and Responding to Criticisms of Deliberative Civic Engagement

Loren Collingwood and Justin Reedy

in Democracy in Motion

Published in print November 2012 | ISBN: 9780199899265
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780199980147 | DOI:
Listening and Responding to Criticisms of Deliberative Civic Engagement

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This chapter examines the criticisms leveled against deliberative citizen engagement. It analyzes the merits of those censures and presents counterarguments that deliberation advocates present. Specifically, critics of deliberation point to low citizen motivation and aptitude, excessive idealism, the privileging of reason-based argumentation, and the inability of citizens to be open-minded as significant problems in instituting deliberative systems. Others raise practical concerns such as deliberation's struggle with representing diverse viewpoints or the divide between deliberative events and policy making. Defenders of deliberation maintain that citizens are interested in deliberative styles of governance, and that these systems can indeed be implemented in practical, cost-effective ways. Practitioners have worked in recent years to accommodate alternative styles of communication, and deliberative forums are more effective than conventional political processes at dealing with prejudices and a wide range of viewpoints. Finally, policy-related deliberative events have been successful, although benefits to participants and costs vary.

Keywords: political deliberation; deliberative democracy; deliberative citizen engagement; criticisms of deliberative democracy; deliberative practitioner; deliberative theory

Chapter.  11394 words. 

Subjects: Political Theory

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