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date: 15 April 2021

Abstract and Keywords

Recently scholars have broadened deliberative democracy’s research agenda by developing its “systemic” interpretation. Conceiving of deliberation as a set of institutions and practices distributed throughout society, with different sites playing functionally differentiated roles simultaneously, brings the theory closer to political practice and opens up new normative potentials. However, the general turn towards a systemic interpretation of deliberation has also issued a substantial theoretical promissory note. Deliberative theorists now owe a detailed specification of what the key sites of deliberation are, how they relate to each other, and how those relations can yield emergent legitimacy, sometimes from practices and institutions that are not obviously deliberative on their face. We attempt to pay off a substantial portion of this theoretical debt by identifying the key connections between sites in the deliberative system, elaborating on the conditions that must obtain for the core of the system to function successfully.

Keywords: deliberative system, legitimacy, realism, sites of deliberation, function, division of labor

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