Theorizing dialogic deliberation: Everyday political talk as communicative action and dialogue

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The paradox of deliberative democracy is that the prerequisites of deliberation must be produced through deliberation itself. This essay, thus, proposes that deliberative democracy requires two levels of deliberation: One is instrumental deliberation, a procedural tool, through which people negotiate and make decisions; the other is dialogic deliberation, or dialogue, through which people construct the concept of the self and other, the sense of community, and public reason. Relying on Habermas's theory of communicative action, Buber's concept of dialogue, and Giddens's theory of structuration, we propose that informal and nonpurposive everyday political talk, the practical form of dialogic deliberation, is the fundamental underpinning of deliberative democracy. Through everyday political talk, citizens construct their identities, achieve mutual understanding, produce public reason, form considered opinions, and produce rules and resources for deliberative democracy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)51-70
Number of pages20
JournalCommunication Theory
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2008 Feb 1


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Communication
  • Linguistics and Language

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