Deliberative Democracy and Comparative Democratisation Studies

Nicole CURATO, Jurg Steiner

Research output: A Conference proceeding or a Chapter in BookChapterpeer-review


Deliberation is often pitched as a tool for ‘democratic deepening.’ It is described as antidote to the malaise of contemporary democracies where voter apathy, declining levels of political trust and spin-driven discourse have come to define the conduct of politics. Public deliberation, as the story goes, can reinvigorate civic life by empowering citizens to influence collective decision-making. Over the years, deliberative democrats have made a strong case for democratic innovations that promote inclusive and consequential reason-giving, which, in turn, enhance the legitimacy of ‘advanced’ liberal democracies.
The promise of deliberation, however, is not only limited to ‘mature’ democracies. Fragile political environments can create spaces for deliberation to manage political tensions and develop a shared vision for a society recovering from traumas of dictatorship and armed conflict. In this chapter, we explain the ways in which deliberation plays a crucial role in democratisation and how to examine this phenomenon. Our aim is to provide a theoretically-informed and empirically grounded overview of deliberation’s transformative power in shaping the trajectory of democratising polities.
We develop these ideas in three parts. We begin by answering the question: Why does deliberation matter in democratic transition and consolidation? We put forward three reasons by drawing on empirical examples that illustrate the potency of deliberation as a distinct form of communication in shaping countries’ democratic trajectory. The second part then identifies developments in democracy assessment literature that compliment and give space to a deliberative framework. We also illustrate how a deliberative perspective can fill some gaps and speak to the broader literature on comparative studies of democratisation. In the final section, we propose conceptual approaches to examine the deliberative quality of democratising polities. Deliberative democrats are challenged to embrace the complexity of democratisation while maintaining analytic rigour in spotting discourses, spaces and mechanisms that shape the trajectory of democratising polities.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationOxford Handbook of Deliberative Democracy
EditorsAndré Bächtiger, John S. Dryzek, Jane Mansbridge, Mark E. Warren
Place of PublicationUnited States
PublisherOxford University Press
Number of pages9
ISBN (Electronic)9780198747369
ISBN (Print)9780198747369
Publication statusPublished - 2018

Publication series

NameOxford Handbooks
PublisherOxford University Press


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