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Discourse Theories on Deliberative Democracy - Dictionary of Arguments

Gaus I 159
Deliberative democracy/Discourse theories/Bohman: (...) recent discussions of the deliberative or discursive design of democratic institutions reflect a three-level distinction of various aspects of political life in a complex and pluralistic modern society. Such a society is differentiated in a number of ways, with distinctions between the state and the market, civil society and its associations, and the political public sphere of citizens and various sub-public spheres. In general, discourse and deliberation can go on both within and outside various formal institutions, in civil society and the public sphere as well as in the formal institutions of the modern state with its law making powers and authority (Habermas 1996(1); Dryzek. 1996(2)).
Institutions: The discursive approach to democracy leads to an institutional design that is based on a 'two-track model', in which on the one hand formal institutions generate effective decisions through the medium of law and thus are 'jurisgenerative' (Michelman, 1988(3); Habermas, 1996(1)), and on the other the robust public sphere and civil society allow citizens to engage in deliberation with each other from a variety of perspectives. Deliberative politics then takes place in both tracks at once, in a complex discursive network that includes argumentation, discussion, bargaining and compromise.
Gaus I 160
Problems: (...) there is a conflict between a view of public discourse
a) as providing challenges to formal legal and political authority and, as such, being indirectly deliberative (Dryzek, 2000(4); Pettit, 1998(5)) and subject to discursive challenge from the outside; and
b) the view of those who see it as more directly deliberative in the decision making process itself (Habermas, 1996(1): ch. 8; Dorf and Sabel, 1998(6)). >Institutions/Discourse theories, >Administration/Discourse theories.


1. Habermas, Jürgen (1996) Between Facts and Norms. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
2. Dryzek, John (1996) 'The informal logic of institutional design'. In R. Goodin, ed., Theories of Institutional Design. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
3. Michelman, Frank (1988) 'Law's republic'. Yale Law Review, 97: 1493-537.
4. Dryzek, John (2000) Deliberative Democracy and Beyond. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
5. Pettit, Philip (1998) Republicanism. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
6. Dorf, Michael and Charles Sabel (1998) 'Democratic experimentalism'. Columbia University Law Review, 26: 270-472.

Bohman, James 2004. „Discourse Theory“. In: Gaus, Gerald F. & Kukathas, Chandran 2004. Handbook of Political Theory. SAGE Publications


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Explanation of symbols: Roman numerals indicate the source, arabic numerals indicate the page number. The corresponding books are indicated on the right hand side. ((s)…): Comment by the sender of the contribution. Translations: Dictionary of Arguments
The note [Author1]Vs[Author2] or [Author]Vs[term] is an addition from the Dictionary of Arguments. If a German edition is specified, the page numbers refer to this edition.
Discourse Theories
Gaus I
Gerald F. Gaus
Chandran Kukathas
Handbook of Political Theory London 2004


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