Deliberative and democratic qualities in the public sphere : a comparative study of transition initiatives in Italy and Australia [article]

Andrea Felicetti, University, The Australian National, University, The Australian National
Citizen deliberation is a fundamental concern for deliberative theories of democracy. Early deliberative theorists tied the prospects for a democratic society to the possibility of realising democratic deliberation within publics at large, not just institutions. Nonetheless, circumscribed citizens' or representatives' assemblies have often been identified as the very loci where democratic deliberation could be pursued, whilst the possibility of deliberation within the public sphere has been
more » ... sphere has been neglected. The empirical investigation of the deliberative and democratic qualities in the public sphere remains necessary, as well as an understanding of what aspects may hinder or foster quality discursive engagement. The increasingly advocated systemic approach to deliberative democracy calls for a refined understanding of organisations in the public sphere. This study provides an investigation of the qualities of citizens' engagement from a deliberative democratic standpoint. The key concept through which such qualities are investigated is 'deliberative capacity', which is seen in terms of the extent to which organisations host authentic, inclusive, and consequential discursive processes. This work, in particular, is based on a comparative study of four grassroots local initiatives, two from Australia (in Tasmania and Queensland) and two from Italy (in Emilia-Romagna and Sicily). The case studies under examination are associated with Transition, a contemporary movement fighting peak oil and resource depletion through the development of community-level activism. In the initial part, this work discusses the idea of deliberative capacity in light of the wider debates in the field and adapts this concept to suit the empirical investigation of organisations in the public space. Next, the interpretive and qualitative research methodology and relevant literature are presented. Social movement scholarship emerges as the area which has most closely investigated the issues under examination in this work and therefore it receives par [...]
doi:10.25911/5d612092e3830 fatcat:c3owmfpdbrbs7cvb6xt5ikf5bm