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Deliberative Democracy and Divided Societies$
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Ian O'Flynn

Print publication date: 2006

Print ISBN-13: 9780748621446

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: September 2012

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9780748621446.001.0001

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Dilemmas of Exclusion

Dilemmas of Exclusion

(p.120) Chapter 6 Dilemmas of Exclusion
Deliberative Democracy and Divided Societies

Ian O'flynn

Edinburgh University Press

Deliberative democracy appears to give rise to the following dilemma. The more familiar participants are with one another, the more likely it is that their deliberations will be successful. Knowing this, there is a strong temptation for the stronger members of society to exclude the weaker. This chapter considers how deliberative democrats should respond to this dilemma. It begins by providing a specifically democratic grounding for the view that it is wrong to exclude a person from political life simply because they belong, or are viewed as belonging, to some particular ethnic group. It then examines in some detail the charge, levelled by critics such as Lyn Sanders and Iris Young, that deliberative democracy is inherently biased against disadvantaged groups and hence is inevitably exclusionary. Having laid out the various aspects of that charge, the chapter considers what a more open and inclusive conception of democratic deliberation might look like. It looks at the important role that narrative might have to play in terms of explaining and redressing the sources of ethnic conflict. It concludes, however, that although narrative has a crucial role to play in divided societies, the appeal to general political principles and standards cannot ultimately be avoided.

Keywords:   deliberative democracy, political life, disadvantaged groups, democratic deliberation, ethnic conflict, narrative, divided societies

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