Constructing Democratic Space: Inclusion, Efficacy, and Protest in Deliberative Democratic Theory

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Drake, Anna
Deliberative Democracy , Protest , Democratic Theory , Inclusion
This dissertation looks at the challenges that deliberative democratic theory encounters when it tries to offer a rich account of inclusion yet refuses to acknowledge the legitimacy of external protest. While sympathetic to deliberative democracy’s goals, I challenge this focus upon the deliberative group as the theory tries to satisfy requirements of inclusion and legitimacy. In response I offer a normative account of protest within a larger deliberative framework – one that offers a more comprehensive account of democratic inclusion. I look at critiques of deliberative democracy, particularly in terms of the theory’s ability to account for pluralism, and I argue that in order to meet this challenge we need to offer a normative justification of protest. Moreover, we need to do this not only to achieve full and effective inclusion but also to deal with the lack of efficacy that marginalized deliberants may encounter even when requirements of formal and effective inclusion are met. As I address these challenges I offer a theory of protest-as-deliberation in which I develop a normative justification of protest and set out the conceptual changes that allow this justification to be normatively and practically viable. My account takes protest, as something outside of and in opposition to the deliberative group, seriously and extends the deliberative framework to include protest; importantly, it does this without co-opting protestors. Drawing from previous critiques, I develop the normative and practical links that are necessary in order to facilitate a deliberative dialogue between protestors and the deliberative group. The conceptual changes that are necessary in order to realize protest-as-deliberation require that we re-evaluate the impact that deliberative criteria of reason-giving has upon effective inclusion and people’s efficacy and that we change these criteria accordingly. Additionally, we need to revisit the democratic capacity of the public sphere, reconceptualized as the deliberative polity in which the process of protest-as-deliberation takes place. When we do this we ought to place a greater emphasis upon available public spaces, both physical and conceptual, that deliberants and protestors need in order for effective deliberation and contestation to occur.
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