Bringing expert knowledge to bear in an open and deliberative way to help solve pressing social problems is a major concern today, when technocratic and bureaucratic decision making often occurs with little or no input from the general public. Albert Dzur proposes an approach he calls “democratic professionalism” to build bridges between specialists in domains like law, medicine, and journalism and the lay public in such a way as to enable and enhance broader public engagement with and deliberation about major social issues. Sparking a critical and constructive dialogue among social theories of the professions, professional ethics, and political theories of deliberative democracy, Dzur reveals interests, motivations, strengths, and vulnerabilities in conventional professional roles that provide guideposts for this new approach. He then applies it in examining three practical arenas in which experiments in collaboration and power-sharing between professionals and citizens have been undertaken: public journalism, restorative justice, and the bioethics movement. Finally, he draws lessons from these cases to refine this innovative theory and identify the kinds of challenges practitioners face in being both democratic and professional.
Subjects: Political Science
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