University of York: 24-26 June 2009
An announcement from Matthew Festenstein:
‘Deliberative democracy’ has become a dominant, if contested, paradigm in democratic thought. Political philosophers have investigated the conceptual shape and normative desirability of deliberation, rationality, procedural fairness. Empirical political scientists have explored the forms and availability of deliberation in relation to international negotiations, mediation processes, regional and national legislative processes, and various experimental settings. Among practitioners, the dea of deliberative democracy inspired a surge of experimentation with techniques of public participation in policy making, including citizens’ juries, participatory budgeting, electronic town halls, and many other models in environmental, development, health, and planning decisions around the world. Indeed, much empirical work on deliberative democracy has tended to focus on these micro processes, or ‘minipublics’, and to overlook the larger, macro issues which originally inspired the deliberative democracy project. More generally, political enthusiasm for mechanisms such as citizens’ juries has arguably not kept pace with developing conceptual, normative and empirical research.
This conference aims to move forward the research agenda in this area, bringing together different approaches and identifying a set of linked problems and issues for deliberative democracy.
 Developments in normative theory, empirical work, and practical experiment have tended to work in parallel, with the logic of specialisation tending to minimise incentives to communicate across disciplinary and subfield boundaries. The first aim of the conference is to encourage reflection on the relationship between these different aspects of the deliberative paradigm. What are the distinctive problems of each approach and institutional translation?
 The different research traditions raise questions about the appropriate level of analysis in considering deliberative democracy. To what extent is deliberative capacity a property only of small groups or of larger social units or structures? Is it the case that micro processes, on their own, are best used to address relatively micro problems, problems that can be fairly easily defined, with a known and containable number of stakeholders? This seems to be the direction in which deliberative practice is heading, with the focus on limited problem-solving. Is this ocus justifiable or does it arbitrarily delimit or even undermine the claims made on behalf of deliberation, that it can address problems of mass political disengagement, social exclusion, the formation of political enclaves and the power of small elites? To what extent are genuinely deliberative processes conceivable or desirable on larger scales, such as the national or supra-national level?
3] How we identify and evaluate the deliberative qualities of groups and structures is related to the analytical framework adopted for study. Social choice theory, more institutional orientations, and approaches grounded in psychology offer different accounts of the character and dynamics of deliberation. These different theoretical approaches in turn suggest different methodologies for investigating deliberation and to some extent different subject matter or inquiry. The third conference objective is to advance debate among these frameworks.
Confirmed speakers include:
Professor James Bohman (Saint Louis)
Professor Simone Chambers (Toronto)
Professor Thomas Christiano (Arizona)
Professor John Dryzek (Australian National University)
Dr Sophie Duschesne (Oxford)
Dr Florence Haegel (Sciences Po)
Professor Maarten Hajer (Amsterdam)
Professor Christian List (London School of Economics)
Professor Jane Mansbridge (Harvard)
Dr Aletta Norval (Essex)
Professor Ioannis Papadopoulos (Lausanne)
Professor Graham Smith (Southampton)
Professor Mark Warren (University of British Columbia)
The Conference is supported by the British Academy and by the University of York. For further details, including information about registration, please