The Democratic Dynamics of Government Consultations. Speaking Freely and Listening Properly

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There is a growing use of consultation and e-consultation procedures by governments. This chapter seeks to examine the role of consultation as part of a new technology of government. Consultation on policy development can reinvigorate democratic engage- ment but often it can silence views through a sort of participatory disempowerment; it can loosen the democratic anchorage of the public service within the state. The chapter develops a governmentality perspective interrogating what participation, democratic engagement and free speech mean in this context, and how ideas of publicness are constructed, managed and controlled. The focus is on the nature of consultation, its relationship to ideas of free speech and speaking freely, and its potential to empower subaltern counterpublics which can formulate oppositional interpretations and urge alternative conclusions. The aim is to develop an idea of the democratic adequacy of the consultation process and draw out a sense of how democratic engagement here can be structured – for good or ill.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationBlurring the Lines: Market-Driven and Democracy-Driven Freedom of Expression
EditorsMarie Edstrom, Andrew T. Kenyon, Eva-Marie Svensson
Place of PublicationGoteborg
ISBN (Print) 978-91-87957-36-9
Publication statusPublished - 12 Oct 2016


  • consultation, participation, governmentality, new technology, e-democracy, democratic adequacy,

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Sciences(all)


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