Democratic Deliberation in the Modern World: The Systemic Turn

J. Kuyper

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)


ABSTRACT: The normative ideals and feasibility of deliberative democracy have come under attack from several directions, as exemplified by a recent book version of a special issue of this journal. Critics have pointed out that the complexity of the modern world, voter ignorance, partisanship, apathy, and the esoteric nature of political communications make it unlikely that deliberation will be successful at creating good outcomes, and that it may in fact be counterproductive since it can polarize opinions. However, these criticisms were aimed at “micro” theories of deliberative democracy. The new “systemic” turn in deliberative democracy avoids these problems by positing a system-wide division of labor in a nation-state: experts and ordinary citizens “check” each other's opinions; partisanship and even ignorance can spur deliberation among citizens; and citizens may remain apathetic about some issues but deliberate about others. So long as the overall level of systemic deliberation increases, instead of decreases, the ideal of deliberation is still relevant in a society as complex as ours.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)49-63
JournalCritical Review
Issue number1
Early online date14 Jan 2015
Publication statusPublished - 2015

Bibliographical note

Cited By :10

Export Date: 19 September 2018

Correspondence Address: Kuyper, J.; Department of Political Science, Stockholm University, Universitetsvägen 10 F, Level 5, Sweden

Funding details: 200971 DII, ERC, European Research Council

Funding text: Jonathan Kuyper,, a Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Department of Political Science, Stockholm University, Universitetsvägen 10 F, Level 5, Stockholm, 106 91, gratefully acknowledges a European Research Council grant (200971 DII) for the Transaccess project, which enabled this research.

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  • citizen ignorance
  • deliberative democracy
  • deliberative systems
  • epistemic Democracy
  • institutional design
  • Jane Mansbridge
  • John Dryzek
  • Simone Chambers


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