“Democracy is under siege.” So begins the Summer 2017 issue of Dædalus on “The Prospects & Limits of Deliberative Democracy.” In their introduction to the issue, editors James S. Fishkin (Director of the Center for Deliberative Democracy and Janet M. Peck Chair in International Communication at Stanford University) and Jane Mansbridge (Charles F. Adams Professor of Political Leadership and Democratic Values at the Harvard Kennedy School) consider the crisis of confidence in the ideal of democracy as rule by the people. If the “will of the people” can be manufactured by marketing strategies, fake news, and confirmation bias, then how real is our democracy? If the expanse between decision-making elites and a mobilized public grows, then how functional is our democracy? If political alienation and apathy increase, then how representative is our democracy?
The thirteen essays in this issue assess the current crisis of democratic governance and explore the alternative potential of deliberative democracy, in which the will of the people is informed by thoughtful, moderated citizen engagement and discussion. But is a diverse and politically polarized citizenry even capable of deliberation? How likely is group deliberation to reach a well-reasoned decision? And could group deliberation recreate the same power imbalances and social ills obstructing other kinds of discourse?
As befits Dædalus—a journal that engages readers on issues of public importance through the thoughtful presentation of competing perspectives—there are no consensus answers in this issue. The authors include both proponents of deliberative democracy and its staunch critics. Deliberative models are presented in theory and in practice, with case studies including the angry populism of the Brexit vote, the rise of deliberative mechanisms in authoritarian China, the first Deliberative Polls in rural Uganda, and the deliberation practiced in the executive branch in the U.S. government.
What the contributing authors do share is recognition that the legitimacy of electoral representation suffers when people in democracies become disillusioned, disappointed, and disaffected. Readers of this issue are provided with competing and compelling ideas about how to restore faith in democracies by making them more resilient and responsive.
The thirteen essays in the Summer 2017 issue of Dædalus, summaries of which are available online, include:
James S. Fishkin (Stanford University) and Jane Mansbridge (Harvard University)
Referendum vs. Institutionalized Deliberation:
What Democratic Theorists Can Learn from the 2016 Brexit Decision
Claus Offe (Hertie School of Governance, Germany)
Twelve Key Findings in Deliberative Democracy Research
Nicole Curato (University of Canberra, Australia), John S. Dryzek (University of Canberra, Australia), Selen A. Ercan (University of Canberra, Australia), Carolyn M. Hendriks (Australian National University), and Simon Niemeyer (University of Canberra, Australia)
Political Deliberation & the Adversarial Principle
Bernard Manin (École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales, Paris; New York University)
Deliberative Democracy as Open, Not (Just) Representative Democracy
Hélène Landemore (Yale University)
Inequality is Always in the Room: Language & Power in Deliberative Democracy
Arthur Lupia (University of Michigan) and Anne Norton (University of Pennsylvania)
Collusion in Restraint of Democracy: Against Political Deliberation
Ian Shapiro (Yale University)
Can Democracy be Deliberative & Participatory? The Democratic Case for Political Uses of Mini-Publics
Cristina Lafont (Northwestern University)
Deliberative Citizens, (Non)Deliberative Politicians: A Rejoinder
André Bächtiger (University of Stuttgart, Germany) and Simon Beste (University of Lucerne, Switzerland)
Deliberation & the Challenge of Inequality
Alice Siu (Stanford University)
Deliberative Democracy in the Trenches
Cass R. Sunstein (Harvard University)
Applying Deliberative Democracy in Africa: Uganda’s First Deliberative Polls
James S. Fishkin (Stanford University), Roy William Mayega (Makerere University, Uganda), Lyn Atuyambe (Makerere University, Uganda), Nathan Tumuhamye (Makerere University, Uganda), Julius Ssentongo (Makerere University, Uganda), Alice Siu (Stanford University), and William Bazeyo (Makerere University, Uganda)
Authoritarian Deliberation in China
Baogang He (Deakin University, Australia) and Mark E. Warren (The University of British Columbia, Canada)
Print, electronic, and Kindle copies of the new issue can be ordered at: http://www.amacad.org/publications/daedalus.