Deliberative Democracy and Divided Societies

Deliberative Democracy and Divided Societies

Ian O’Flynn
Copyright Date: 2006
Pages: 192
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  • Book Info
    Deliberative Democracy and Divided Societies
    Book Description:

    In a world where the impact of internal conflicts is spreading ever wider, there is a real need to rethink how democratic ideals and institutions can best be implemented. This book responds to this challenge by showing that deliberative democracy has crucial, but largely untapped, normative implications for societies deeply divided along ethnic lines. Its central claim is that deliberative norms and procedures can enable the citizens of such societies to build and sustain a stronger sense of common national identity. More specifically, it argues that the deliberative requirements of reciprocity and publicity can enable citizens and representatives to strike an appropriate balance between the need to recognise competing ethnic identities and the need to develop a common civic identity centred on the institutions of the state.Although the book is primarily normative, it supports its claims with a broad range of empirical examples, drawn from cases such as Bosnia and Herzegovina, Lebanon, Macedonia, Northern Ireland and South Africa. It also considers the normative implications of deliberative democracy for questions of institutional design. It argues that power-sharing institutions should be conceived in a way that allows citizens as much freedom as possible to shape their own relation to the polity. Crucially, this freedom can enable them to reconstruct their relationship to each other and to the state in ways that ultimately strengthen and sustain the transition from ethnic conflict to democracy.

    eISBN: 978-0-7486-2703-5
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Acknowledgements
    (pp. vii-viii)
    Ian O’Flynn
  4. Introduction
    (pp. 1-12)

    The idea of a specifically deliberative model of democracy, in which collective decisions are arrived at through public reasoning and discussion among equal citizens, is not new. Since about 1990, however, that idea has undergone a major revival – so much so that deliberative democracy is now firmly established as one of the most important positions in contemporary democratic theory. The reasons driving this revival are manifold, but three broad considerations stand out. First, many democratic theorists had become increasingly dissatisfied with the prevailing view that, because democracy imposes unrealistic demands on the time and attention of ordinary citizens, the business...

  5. Chapter 1 Locating the Discussion
    (pp. 13-31)

    In this book I present a philosophical argument about deliberative democracy and its relevance for the resolution of ethno-political conflict in divided societies. Although my approach is philosophical, I take a broad view of the kinds of considerations that are relevant to normative or evaluative thought. More specifically, I agree with Robert Goodin and Phillip Pettit ‘that questions about what can feasibly be achieved in a certain area are just as central to normative concerns as questions about what is desirable in that area’ (1993: 1). Political philosophy is concerned with the way in which political institutions and practices ideally...

  6. Chapter 2 Division, Democracy and Deliberation
    (pp. 32-53)

    Now that we have identified the basic conceptual terrain within which this book is located, it is time to turn our attention to the central issue with which it is concerned. According to John Stuart Mill, a democracy cannot succeed unless its citizens share a common national identity. This chapter begins by highlighting two main reasons why this is so – in the absence of a common national identity, citizens (1) will not see themselves as bound by a single political authority or (2) be motivated to do their part in carrying the burdens of self-government. I argue, however, that although...

  7. Chapter 3 Deliberating National Identity and Citizenship
    (pp. 54-76)

    The last chapter began by discussing John Stuart Mill’s claim that a democratic state will not succeed unless its citizens share a common national identity. This chapter seeks to expand upon that discussion by examining two main forms that national identity might conceivably take. The first of these forms stresses civic institutions, public offices, agencies and officials, as well as common and authoritative rules that typically apply across the territory of a given state. By contrast, the second of these forms stresses the importance of ethnicity and culture, ancestral memories and struggles, and common fears and hopes for the future....

  8. Chapter 4 The Requirement of Reciprocity
    (pp. 77-97)

    The requirement of reciprocity is a very familiar idea. In its most basic form, it admonishes us to ‘do unto others as we would have them do unto us’. Accordingly, we should be willing to treat people kindly if that is how we would like them to treat us in return. But by the same token, if someone treats us unkindly, then reciprocity is often taken to mean that we should treat that person in like terms. Of course, this latter kind of reasoning can, and very often does, get people into all sorts of trouble. One thinks, for example,...

  9. Chapter 5 The Requirement of Publicity
    (pp. 98-119)

    In the last chapter, I argued that the requirement of reciprocity can play its part in helping to create a stronger sense of common national identity among the citizens of a divided society. More specifically, I argued that, by requiring citizens to provide reasons for their proposals that others can accept, reciprocity promotes the kinds of compromises that build shareable goods. In turn, those goods can form the basis of a stronger sense of common national identity. That argument, however, is incomplete. in so far as the deliberative requirement of reciprocity is concerned only with how to justify political proposals,...

  10. Chapter 6 Dilemmas of Exclusion
    (pp. 120-140)

    I have argued that deliberative democracy can give citizens the confidence to engage openly and frankly with one another, knowing that their views and opinions will receive a fair hearing. It can, moreover, enable them to accept that, in a democracy, citizens do not have an automatic right to get their way, but must instead seek to convince others of the merits of their claims. Critics argue, however, that deliberative democracy is not nearly as open or inclusive as its defenders claim. In order to deliberate successfully, citizens and representatives must know something about the kinds of political commitments that...

  11. Chapter 7 Civil Society and Political Institutions
    (pp. 141-162)

    Throughout the course of this book, I have stressed the importance of enabling citizens to shape their own relation to the polity. Correspondingly, I have also stressed the need to create representative institutions that are open and responsive to the full diversity of interests and opinions in society. This is not to suggest that these ideals can be met in all instances. In divided societies, the threat of violence will often mean that ethnic claims will have to take priority over other kinds of claims, at least in the first instance. However, in so far as the received view that...

  12. Bibliography
    (pp. 163-176)
  13. Index
    (pp. 177-181)