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Justification, Critique and Deliberative Legitimacy: The Limits of Mini-Publics

Böker, Marit



I contend that the popular ‘mini-publics’ approach to implementing deliberation in practice is unable to realize deliberative democracy in a way that fulfills the deliberative democratic standard of legitimacy. Deliberative democratic legitimacy requires citizens to actively claim their right to justification against government authorities, which the capacity of mini-public deliberation to serve authorities sidelines or even undermines. I propose an alternative account of deliberative democracy with an eye specifically to legitimacy: deliberative democracy as a political culture. On this view, it is cultural aspects (the ethos, social norms and self-understandings that shape and constrain political processes), not institutional specificities, that are decisive for deliberation fulfilling its legitimacy ambition. Deliberative democratic theory ought to conceptualize ways of opening up social and political space for widespread citizen-led engagement and critical scrutiny of authorities, rather than striving for the development of institutional short-cuts.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Nov 2, 2015
Publication Date Mar 22, 2016
Journal Contemporary Political Theory
Print ISSN 1470-8914
Publisher Palgrave Macmillan
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 16
Pages 19-40
Keywords deliberative democracy, legitimacy, mini-publics, deliberative systems
Publisher URL