The instrumental value of deliberative democracy – or, do we have good reasons to be deliberative democrats?

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Though commanding a prominent role in political theory, deliberative democracy has also become a mainstay of myriad other research traditions in recent years. This diffusion has been propelled along by the notion that deliberation, properly conceived and enacted, generates many beneficial outcomes. This article has three goals geared toward understanding whether these instrumental benefits provide us with good reasons – beyond intrinsic ones – to be deliberative democrats. First, the proclaimed instrumental benefits are systematized in terms of micro, meso, and macro outcomes. Second, relevant literatures are canvassed to critically assess what we know – and what we do not know – about deliberation’s effects. Finally, the instrumental benefits of deliberation are recast in light of the ongoing systemic turn in deliberative theory. This article adds to our theoretical understanding of deliberation’s promises and pitfalls, and helps practitioners identify gaps in our knowledge concerning how deliberation works and what its wider societal implications might be.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages33
JournalJournal of Public Deliberation
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 02 Jan 2018


Bibliographical note

Export Date: 19 September 2018

Correspondence Address: Kuyper, J.W.; University of Oslo, Stockholm UniversityNorway; email:

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  • Deliberative democracy
  • Democratization
  • Instrumental effects
  • Systemic turn

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