In Search of the Talkative Public: Media, Deliberative Democracy and Civic Culture

By Peter Dahlgren - 2002

Theories of democracy consider communicative interaction among citizens central. In recent years the idea of deliberative democracy has galvanised elements of political theory with perspectives on communication. This concept emerges to a large extent from the Habermasian trajectory and links currents from theories of civil society and citizenship. It has thus a rather forceful normative dimension. However, there are difficulties; and the aim of the article is to probe the notion of deliberative democracy by framing it in ways that may render it more useful for both theoretical and empirical work. The article begins with a quick interpretation of the theoretical background. From there the author discusses some current issues of conceptualisation, in particular if such talk should be seen as a part of everyday conversation or a special mode of interaction. These definitional issues set the stage for an examination of two recent empirical contributions. In the final section, the article attempts to situate deli- berative democracy within an analytic framework of civic culture. Deliberative democracy, or more simply, discussion, becomes one of six dimensions of civic culture.

Javnost - The Public: Journal of the European Institute for Communication and Culture. Volume 9, Issue 3, 2002.



Communication rights enable all people everywhere to express themselves individually and collectively by all means of communication. They are vital to full participation in society and are, therefore, universal human rights belonging to every man, woman, and child.


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