Deliberative democracy
: toward active citizenship

  • Corinne Anne Wales

    Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


    Deliberative democratic theory has evolved in response to the perceived limits of liberal democratic theory and practice and offers a challenge to, and a critical perspective from which to judge, contemporary liberal representative institutions. The institution of representation establishes a 'division of labour' between an elite of professional politicians and a passive, privatized citizenry. Deliberative democracy offers the possibility of a different form of that division where increased opportunities for citizen participation are taken to be both feasible and desirable, and citizen engagement forms part of an ongoing critical dialogue upon which more legitimate forms of political authority can be grounded. Underpinning deliberative democratic theory is the idea that our needs and interests may be dialogically interpreted and formed. This takes us away from the notion of the citizen as sole proprietor of private, subjectively formed preferences and provides the imperative for a more public, active conception of citizenship. The work of Jurgen Habermas is central to deliberative democratic theory. His distinction between strategic and communicative rationality lies at the heart of the deliberative critique of representative government and in itself provides a useful critical foothold. However, Habermas's procedural conception of discursive legitimacy, though necessary, is not a sufficient condition for a flourishing and vibrant deliberative democracy. This thesis addresses this lacuna in his work, the problem of the mediation of moral principles and moral culture, and elaborates a political ethic of philia politike which substantively supplements contemporary deliberative democratic theory. Turning to the question of deliberative democratic institutions, we ask whether deliberative democracy should be seen as an alternative to liberal representative democracy, requiring a complete restructuring of liberal political institutions, or whether it points to the reform and supplementation of representative structures and practices. We draw learning from the experience of citizens' juries on what may be of value to deliberative democratic theory as well as critically assessing the claim that citizen's juries are viable deliberative institutions.
    Date of Award1999
    Original languageEnglish
    Awarding Institution
    • Nottingham Trent University

    Cite this