Political Theory Readings

Amazon logo Bohman, James, ed. "What is Public Deliberation: A Dialogical Account." In Public Deliberation: Pluralism, Complexity, and Democracy. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1996, pp. 23-69. ISBN: 0262522780.

James Bohman complains that most democratic theorists talk about public deliberation, but do not bother to describe what it actually is. He then seeks to do so himself by explaining "what makes deliberation public, what it can really accomplish, and when it is actually successful." Bohman outlines a number of dialogical mechanisms used in the process of public deliberation and discusses how they affect public reason. Bohman discusses the obstacles to public deliberation in large, diverse societies.

Amazon logo Cohen, Joshua. "Procedure and Substance in Deliberative Democracy." In Deliberative Democracy: Essays on Reason and Politics. Edited by James Bohman and William Rehg. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1997, pp. 405-437. ISBN: 0262522411.

Josh Cohen sets out to counter the argument that reasonable pluralism reduces democracy to a purely procedural process that is devoid of values-driven decision making. Rather, he proposes, reasonable pluralism, combined with a deliberative approach to democracy introduces the values of equality and liberty, as captured by principles of deliberative inclusion, the common good, and participation.

Amazon logo Dryzek, John, ed. "Democratizing Rationality." In Discursive Democracy: Politics, Policy and Political Science. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1990, pp. 3-25. ISBN: 0521392349.

John Dryzek attacks the ideas of instrumental rationality and objectivism as inadequate concepts to drive resolution of the world's problems. He argues that a "discursive and democratic rationality" must be employed to "cure" the world's political ills. Dryzek criticizes a number of other political theorists' perspectives, including Weber, Horkheimer, Adorno, Habermas, and Arendt.

Amazon logo Fung, Archon, and Erik Olin Wright, eds. "Thinking about Empowered Participatory Governance." In Deepening Democracy: Institutional Innovations in Empowered Participatory Governance. London, UK: Verso, 2003, pp. 3-42. ISBN: 1859844669.

Fung and Wright are concerned with the apparent weakening of democracy as governments grow and citizens' direct participation in government declines as decisions are increasingly made through representatives. They argue for the potential to deepen democracy by creating institutions that demand the direct participation of citizens and give four real-world examples of such. They discuss the principles that guide the creation of such institutions and link them to deliberative democratic practice.

Amazon logo Mansbridge, Jane. "Everyday Talk in the Deliberative System." In Deliberative Politics: Essays on Democracy and Disagreement. Edited by Stephen Macedo. New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 1999, pp. 211-239. ISBN: 0195131991.

Jane Mansbridge expands the theory of deliberative democracy to include everyday talk. This is the talk that takes place outside of formal political institutions, but which nevertheless shapes social meanings and norms and influences public moral judgments. Examples are talk in the media, talk between constituents and elected representatives and talk among political activists. Mansbridge contends that everyday talk among citizens is a significant factor for evaluating the quality of deliberative democracy.

Amazon logo Shapiro, Ian, ed. "Aggregation, Deliberation and the Common Good." In The State of Democratic Theory. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2003, pp. 10-34. ISBN: 0691115478.

Ian Shapiro offers a critical assessment of contemporary answers to the questions, What should we expect from democracy? And how likely is it that democracies will live up to those expectations? Shapiro exposes the shortcomings of aggregative and deliberative democratic ideals, according to which the goal of democracy should be to represent the general will for the common good. Shapiro proposes that instead the goal of democracy should be to minimize domination by managing power relations.

Amazon logo Walzer, Michael, ed. "Deliberation...and What Else?" In Politics and Passion. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2005, pp. 90-109. ISBN: 030010328X.

Michael Walzer argues that there is not enough disagreement in the United States over the theory of deliberative democracy, or its "contexts and necessary complements." He seeks to place deliberation in what he calls a "pervasively non-deliberative" political atmosphere, citing the following processes as elements of that atmosphere that involve little to no deliberation: political education, organization, mobilization, demonstration, statement, debate, bargaining, lobbying, campaigning, voting, fund-raising, corruption, scut work, and ruling.

Amazon logo Young, Iris Marion. "Activist Challenges to Deliberative Democracy." In Debating Deliberative Democracy. Edited by James Fishkin and Peter Laslett. Oxford, UK: Blackwell Publishing, 2003, pp. 102-120. ISBN: 1405100435.

Iris Marion Young sets up a dialogue between two idealized characters, an activist and a deliberative democrat, in order to illustrate the limitations of deliberation in promoting justice. The deliberative democrat challenges the activist's methods (demonstrations, boycotts, sit-ins, etc.) on grounds of reasonableness, while the activist challenges deliberative approaches, primarily on grounds of inherent power imbalances in existing political structures and processes. Young concludes that while deliberation has its place in democracy, "the best democratic theory and practice will affirm (both activism and deliberation) while recognizing the tension between them."

Dispute Resolution Readings

Amazon logo Forester, John F., ed. "Beyond Dialogue to Transformative Learning..." In The Deliberative Practitioner: Encouraging Participatory Planning Processes. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1999, pp. 115-153. ISBN: 0262561220.

John Forester suggests that as people take part in deliberative processes, they learn a great deal about the value of what they're deliberating over and about themselves and their relationships to one another. Through deliberation, participants gain "more of value than they at first appreciate…and so with a literally surprising, deliberative political rationality far richer than accounts of decision-making rationality or rational choice allow." Forester presents four cases of participatory action research; briefly identifies limitations of the Deweyan and Freirean models of learning; and further expounds on his argument by discussing the significance of ritual performance in deliberation.

Innes, Judith E., ed. "Consensus Building: Clarifications for the Critics." Planning Theory 3, no. 1 (2004): 5-20. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.

Innes seeks to counter and shed light on some of the common critiques of consensus building, such as claims that external power differentials are deterministic, that lowest common denominator solutions are the outcomes, that valuable tensions are lost in the process, and that agreements are fleeting. She refutes the idea that consensus building is grounded in Habermas' concept of communicative rationality and tries to show, instead, that the process is grounded in interest-based negotiation and mediation.

Amazon logo Innes and Booher. "Collaborative Policymaking: Governance Through Dialogue." In Deliberative Policy Analysis: Understanding Governance in the Network Society. Edited by Maarten A. Hajer and Hendrik Wagenaar. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2003, pp. 33-59. ISBN: 0521530709.

Judy Innes and David Booher seek to demonstrate how and why collaborative policymaking works and how it is different from traditional policymaking. They argue that collaborative policymaking should be characterized by authentic dialogue between diverse and interdependent participants. Using the Sacramento Water Forum as an example, the authors suggest that positive, immediate benefits in the form of reciprocity, relationship-building, learning, and creativity result from collaborative policymaking. The authors also discuss obstacles to collaborative dialogue and provide critique of alternative planning models.

Menkel-Meadow. "The Lawyer's Role(s) in Deliberative Democracy." Nevada Law Journal 5, no. 2 (2005): 347-369. Las Vegas.

Carrie Menkel-Meadow suggests that lawyers can play a critical and unique role as learned neutrals-educated in the law-in deliberative democratic processes. Menkel-Meadow posits that neutral lawyers may need to "reconceptualize their professional roles" in order to advocate for a deliberative process, rather than a particular party or principle. The article is substantially devoted to a discussion of the debate among political theorists regarding the values and institutions that underpin democratic practice, the challenges deliberative processes pose to these norms, and how the role of a lawyer fits into the debate.

Podziba, Susan L. "Social Capital Formation, Public Building and Public Mediation: The Chelsea Charter Consensus Process." The Kettering Foundation. (PDF - 2.0 MB)

In 1990, when the city of Chelsea, Massachusetts was placed into state receivership due to financial trouble and corruption, Susan Podziba led a team of mediators who worked with the citizens of Chelsea to help them craft a new city charter. Podziba describes the process that created the charter, highlighting the manner in which theories of public consensus-building were put into practice.

Amazon logo Susskind, Lawrence. "An Alternative to Roberts Rules of Order..." In The Consensus Building Handbook. Edited by Susskind Lawrence, et al. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, 1999, pp. 3-57. ISBN: 0761908447.

Also titled "A Short Guide to Consensus Building," and written in reference book style, this selection is a practical, step-by-step guide to bringing a group of people to consensus. The process is broken down into five steps: convening, clarifying responsibilities, deliberating, deciding, and implementing agreements. Each step is succinctly outlined and the entire process is treated separately for ad hoc or permanent groups. The guide includes a brief discussion of how to deal with barriers to consensus building.

Amazon logo Susskind and Cruikshank. "Theory and Practice of Dispute Resolution and Sources of Difficulty." In Breaking the Impasse: Consensual Approaches to Resolving Public Disputes. New York, NY: Basic Books, 1987, pp. 16-79. ISBN: 0465007503.

Lawrence Susskind and Jeffrey Cruikshank first distinguish between two categories of disputes: distributional (dealing primarily with the allotment of resources) and constitutional (particular to questions of human or civil rights) and suggest a consensual approach to resolving distributional disputes. The authors criticize political solutions of compromise and identify and expound upon four characteristics of a good negotiated settlement: fairness, efficiency, wisdom, and stability. They discuss the obstacles to implementing political solutions, citing historical causes and identifying five flaws in America's representative democracy: tyranny of the majority, lack of long-term commitment, shortcomings of the voting process, technical complexity overwhelming sloganeering, and the winner-takes-all mindset.

"Five Stages of Collaborative Decision Making on Public Issues." (PDF)
One-page summary of the collaborative decision making process, produced by the Center for Collaborative Policy at California State University, Sacramento.

Participant-Submitted Readings

Fishkin, James. "Realizing Deliberative Democracy: Virtual and Face to Face Possibilities." A version of this paper was presented in Hangzhou, China at the conference on "Deliberative Democracy and Chinese Practice of Participatory and Deliberative Institutions," November 18-21, 2004.

Fung, Archon. "Deliberation Before the Revolution." Political Theory 33, no. 2 (June 2005): 397-419. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.

Rothman, Jay. "The Cincinnati Police-Community Relations Collaborative." Criminal Justice 18, no.4 (Winter 2004): 35-42. American Bar Association.

Sclavi: Why Understanding The Bronx Requires the Humorist's Touch. (PDF)

Hajer, Maaren, A. "Setting the Stage, a Dramaturgy of Policy Deliberation." Administration and Society 36, no. 6 (January 2005): 624-647. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.

Roberts, Nancy. "Public Deliberation: An Alternative Approach to Crafting Policy and Setting Direction." Public Administration Review 57, no. 2 (March/April 1997): 124-132.

———. "Keeping Public Officials Accountable through Dialogue: Resolving the Accountability Paradox." Public Administration Review 62, no. 6 (November/December 2002): 658-669.

Roberts, Nancy. "Organizing for Peace Operations." Public Management Review 7, no. 1 (2005): 111-133.

Jakes, Susan. "Dabbling in Democracy." Time, August 25, 2005, 12.

Reuben, Richard. "Faculty Focus: Democracy and Dispute Resolution: The Problem With Arbitration." Abstract. Issues and Interests 4, no. 2 (Spring 2003): 3. University of Missouri-Columbia School of Law The Center for the Study of Dispute Resolution. (PDF)

Reuben, Richard. "Democracy and Dispute Resolution: The Problem With Arbitration." Law and Contemporary Problems 62, no. 4 (2004): 101-142.

Fischer, Frank. "Professional Expertise in a Deliberative Democracy: Facilitating Participatory Inquiry." The Good Society (PEGS) 13, no. 1 (2004): 21-28.