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Political Research Exchange - PRX

Social Movements and Deliberative Democracy: Is there a Countervailing Power in Europe?

Panel Number
Panel Chair
Carsten Herzberg
nexus Institute for Cooperation Management and Interdisciplinary Research
Panel Co-Chair
Yves Sintomer
Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin
Panel Discussant
Giovanni Allegretti
Centro de Estudos Sociais, University of Coimbra

Some social movements have been skeptical about citizen participation for a long time. From their perspective, governments are likely to exploit the participation of citizens for their own interests. On the other side, governments that have implemented participatory devices have been afraid that protest groups, by their adversarial nature, could hinder the quality of deliberation. As a consequence of this empirical phenomenon, research projects on democratic innovation and social movements developed in separation. Recent evidence, however, has shown that the combination of the two areas could help to overcome the problems of limited impact in democratic innovation and aid in the understanding of social movements’ processes of transformation. Archon Fung and Erik Olin Wright (2003) for example state that without countervailing power, the existing forms of participatory deliberation are not able to yield the benefits that its proponents desire. The authors explain that in participatory deliberation, citizens often lack the opportunity to counterbalance the dominant influence of company representatives, members of government, or other stakeholders equipped with resources. Therefore, Fung/Wright propose that citizens should combine social pressure with a strategy of common sense-oriented dialogue. – This panel would like to continue this discussion in order to promote the exchange of evidence between researchers of democratic innovation and social movements. The hypothesis on countervailing power is one example, but we generally invite paper which describe how deliberative democracy is influenced by social movements. Which experiences have been made by social movements in the frame of deliberative democracy? Is there countervailing power in Europe, and what are the conditions for its emergence?

Paper List

Title Details
Experiencing Deliberative Democracy in Social Movements: The Case of General Meetings in French Student Mobilisations View Paper Details
Inclusive Constitution Making: Epistemic Considerations on the Icelandic Experiment View Paper Details
Looking at Movements at a Local Level and From a Deliberative Democratic Perspective. A comparative Analysis of two Transition Initiatives from Italy View Paper Details
Shortcoming or Malfunctioning? The Channels of Representation in Spain View Paper Details
The Political Turn of Citizens: Between Social Movements and Democratic Innovations View Paper Details
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