Discursive democracy vs. liberal constitutionalism

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For better or for worse, the theory of democracy came in the 1990s to be dominated by a deliberative approach, as is confirmed by the attention paid to deliberation in the other chapters of this volume. This swift conquest is remarkable given the question mark that still hangs over deliberation when it comes to perhaps the central question of democracy: how do collective decisions get made? I shall argue that in the breathless rush to advance deliberation, a key distinction has been lost. There are in fact two different views of democracy that have been subsumed and intermingled under the deliberative heading. In this chapter I intend to disentangle these two views, criticize one, defend the other, and show how this distinction helps make sense of some of the defences, illustrations and criticisms of deliberative democracy that appear in other chapters of this volume, as well as in the field more generally.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationDemocratic Innovation
Subtitle of host publicationDeliberation, representation and association
EditorsMichael Saward
Place of PublicationUnited Kingdom
PublisherTaylor & Francis
Number of pages12
ISBN (Electronic)9781134566624
ISBN (Print)9780415406574
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2003
Externally publishedYes


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