• Nicole Curato
  • Marit Hammond
  • John B. Min
Part of the Political Philosophy and Public Purpose book series (POPHPUPU)


This chapter retraces the place of power in the normative theory of deliberative democracy. It describes deliberative democracy’s ambivalent relationship with power—it promises to humble coercive forms of power, yet it produces its own, productive form of power for this, which does not always come without problems.

The chapter thus explores the nuances of both coercive and productive forms of power, responds to critiques of deliberative theory as either powerless or too powerful, and introduces a typology of deliberative democracy’s relationship with four different types of power, to culminate in a theory of deliberative power that centres on the power of justification to curb and legitimate uses of power in an inevitably imperfect world.


  1. Achen, Christopher, and Larry Bartels. 2016. Democracy for Realists: Why Elections Do Not Produce Responsive Government. Princeton: Princeton University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Albrecht, Steve, Chad Albrecht, Conan Albrecht, and Mark Zimbelman. 2012. Fraud Examination. Mason, OH: Cenage Learning.Google Scholar
  3. Anderson, Elizabeth. 2006. The Epistemology of Democracy. Episteme 3: 9–23.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Ani, Emmanuel Ifeanyi. 2013. On Traditional African Consensual Rationality. The Journal of Political Philosophy 22 (3): 342–265.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Appadurai, Arjun. 2004. The Capacity to Aspire: Culture and the Terms of Recognition. In Culture and Public Action, ed. Vijayendra Rao and Michael Walton, 59–84. Stanford: Stanford University Press.Google Scholar
  6. Asen, Robert. 2015. Democracy, Deliberation and Education. Pennsylvania: Pennsylvania State University Press.Google Scholar
  7. Bachrach, Peter, and Morton Baratz. 1962. Two Faces of Power. The American Political Science Review 56 (4): 947–952.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Bell, Daniel. 1999. Democratic Deliberation: The Problem of Implementation. In Deliberative Politics: Essays on Democracy and Disagreement, ed. Stephen Macedo, 70–87. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  9. Benhabib, Seyla. 1996. Democracy and Difference: Contesting the Boundaries of the Political. Princeton: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  10. Bohman, James. 1998. The Coming of Age of Deliberative Democracy. Journal of Political Philosophy 4: 418–443.Google Scholar
  11. Bohman, James, and Henry Richardson. 2009. Liberalism, Deliberative Democracy, and Reasons that All Can Accept. The Journal of Political Philosophy 17 (3): 253–274.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Brennan, Jason. 2016. Against Democracy. Princeton: Princeton University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Brown, Elsa Barkley. 1994. Negotiating and Transforming the Public Sphere: African American Political Life in the Transition from Slavery to Freedom. Public Culture 7 (1): 107–146.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Chalmers, Patrick. 2018. How 99 Strangers in a Dublin Hotel Broke Ireland’s Abortion Deadlock. The Guardian, March 8. Accessed 20 April 2018.
  15. Chambers, Simone. 2003. Deliberative Democratic Theory. Annual Review of Political Science 6: 307–326.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. ———. 2010. Theories of Political Justification. Philosophy Compass 5 (11): 893–903.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Cohen, Joshua. 1986. An Epistemic Conception of Democracy. Ethics 97 (1): 26–38.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. ———. 1996. Procedure and Substance in Deliberative Democracy. In Democracy and Difference: Contesting the Boundaries of the Political, ed. Seyla Benhabib, 95–119. Princeton: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  19. ———. 1997. Deliberation and Democratic Legitimacy. In Deliberative Democracy: Essays on Reason and Politics, ed. James Bohman and William Rehg. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  20. ———. 2003. Deliberation and Democratic Legitimacy. In Debates in Contemporary Political Philosophy: An Anthology, ed. Derek Matravers and Jon Pike, 342–360. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  21. Cohen, Joshua, and Joel Rogers. 1995. Associations and Democracy: The Real Utopias Project. Vol. 1. London: Verso.Google Scholar
  22. Coleman, Jules, and John Ferejohn. 1986. Democracy and Social Choice. Ethics 97 (1): 6–25.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Cooke, Maeve. 2000. Five Arguments for Deliberative Democracy. Political Studies 48 (5): 947–969.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Dotson, Kristie. 2014. Conceptualizing Epistemic Oppression. Social Epistemology 28 (2): 115–138.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Dryzek, John. 2000. Deliberative Democracy and Beyond: Liberals, Critics, Contestations. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  26. ———. 2001. Legitimacy and Economy in Deliberative Democracy. Political Theory 29 (5): 651–669.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Dryzek, John S. 2006. Deliberative Global Politics: Discourse and Democracy in a Divided World. Cambridge: Polity Press.Google Scholar
  28. ———. 2009. Democratization as Deliberative Capacity Building. Comparative Political Studies 42 (11): 1379–1402.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. ———. 2010. Foundations and Frontiers of Deliberative Governance. Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. ———. 2016. Symposium Commentary: Reflections on the Theory of Deliberative Systems. Critical Policy Studies 10 (2): 209–215.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Dzur, Albert, and Rekha Mirchandani. 2007. Punishment and Democracy: The Role of Public Deliberation. Punishment and Society 9 (2): 151–175.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Erman, Eva. 2009. What Is Wrong with Agonistic Pluralism?: Reflections on Conflict in Democratic Theory. Philosophy and Social Criticism 35 (9): 1039–1062.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Estlund, David. 2008. Democratic Authority: A Philosophical Framework. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  34. Evans, Peter and Martha Finnemore. 2001. Organizational Reform and the Expansion of the South’s Voice at the Fund. G-24 Discussion Paper Series. New York and Geneva: United Nations. Accessed 5 May 2018.
  35. Fraser, Nancy. 1990. Rethinking the Public Sphere: A Contribution to the Critique of Actually Existing Democracy. Social Text (25/26): 56–80.Google Scholar
  36. French, J.R.P., Jr., and B. Raven. 1959. The Basis of Social Power. In Studies in Social Power, ed. D. Cartwright. Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan Press.Google Scholar
  37. Fricker, Miranda. 2007. Epistemic Injustice: Power and the Ethics of Knowing. Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Gordon, Eric, Jason Haas, and Becky Michelson. 2017. Civic Creativity: Role-Playing Games in Deliberative Process. International Journal of Communication 11: 3789–3807.Google Scholar
  39. Gutmann, Amy, and Dennis Thompson. 1996. Democracy and Disagreement. Princeton: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  40. ———. 2003. Democracy and Disagreement. In The Democracy Sourcebook, ed. Robert Dahl, Ian Shapiro, and Jose Antonio Cheibub, 18–24. Cambridge: The MIT Press.Google Scholar
  41. ———. 2004. Why Deliberative Democracy? Princeton: Princeton University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Habermas, Jürgen. 1984. The Theory of Communicative Action. Vol. 1. Boston: Beacon Press.Google Scholar
  43. ———. 1989. The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons.Google Scholar
  44. ———. 1990. Moral Consciousness and Communicative Action. Trans. Shierry Weber Nicholsen and Christian Lenhardt. MIT Press.Google Scholar
  45. ———. 1996. Between Facts and Norms: Contributions to a Discourse Theory of Law and Democracy. Massachusetts: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  46. ———. 1999. Between Facts and Norms: An Author’s Reflections. Denver University Law Review 76 (4): 937–942.Google Scholar
  47. ———. 2006. Political Communication in Media Society: Does Democracy Still Enjoy an Epistemic Dimension? The Impact of Normative Theory on Empirical Research. Communication Theory 16 (4): 411–426.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Hendriks, Carolyn. 2009. Deliberative Governance in the Context of Power. Policy and Society 28 (3): 173–184.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Ho, Karen. 2009. Liquidated: An Ethnography of Wall Street. Durham: Duke University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Kadlec, Alison, and Will Friedman. 2007. Deliberative Democracy and the Problem of Power. Journal of Public Deliberation 3 (1): 1–26.Google Scholar
  51. Kant, Immauel. 1999. Critique of Pure Reason. In The Cambridge Edition of the Works of Immanuel Kant, ed. and Trans. P. Guyer, and A.W. Wood. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp. 127–702.Google Scholar
  52. Keane, John. 2004. Violence and Democracy. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. ———. 2010. Does Democracy Have a Violent Heart? In War, Democracy, and Culture in Classical Athens, ed. David Pritchard, 378–408. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  54. Kumar, Deepa. 2006. Media, War, and Propaganda: Strategies of Information Management During the 2003 Iraq War. Communication and Critical/Cultural Studies 3 (1): 48–69.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Lafont, Cristina. 2015. Deliberation, Participation, and Democratic Legitimacy: Should Deliberative Mini-publics Shape Public Policy? Journal of Political Philosophy 23 (1): 40–63.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Landemore, Hélène. 2012. Democratic Reason. Princeton: Princeton University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Landemore, Hélène. 2017. Democratic Reason: Politics, Collective Intelligence, and the Rule of the Many. Princeton: Princeton University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. List, Christian, and Robert Goodin. 2001. Epistemic Democracy: Generalizing the Condorcet Jury Theorem. Journal of Political Philosophy 3: 277–306.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Locke, John. 1988. In The Second Treatise of Government, ed. Peter Laslett. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  60. Lukes, Stephen. 2005. Power: A Radical View. 2nd ed. New York: Palgrave.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Manin, Bernard. 1987. On Legitimacy and Political Deliberation. Political Theory 15 (3): 338–368.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. Mansbridge, Jane. 2010. The Place of Self-Interest and the Role of Power in Deliberative Democracy. The Journal of Political Philosophy 18 (1): 64–100.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  63. Mansbridge, Jane, James Bohman, Simone Chambers, Thomas Christiano, Archon Fung, John Parkinson, Dennis Thompson, and Mark Warren. 2012. A Systematic Approach to Deliberative Democracy. In Deliberative Systems: Deliberative Democracy at the Large Scale, ed. John Parkinson and Jane Mansbridge, 1–26. New York: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  64. McGreevy, Ronan. 2017. Why did Citizens’ Assembly Take Liberal View on Abortion? The Irish Times, June 30. Accessed 20 April 2018.
  65. Morgenbesser, Lee. Forthcoming. The Rise of Sophisticated Authoritarianism in Southeast Asia. New York: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  66. Mouffe, Chantal. 2000. The Democratic Paradox. London: Verso.Google Scholar
  67. Mutz, Diana. 2006. Hearing the Other Side: Deliberative versus Participatory Democracy. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  68. Niemeyer, Simon, and John Dryzek. 2007. The Ends of Deliberation: Meta-consensus and Inter-subjective Rationality as Ideal Outcomes. Swiss Political Science Review 13 (4): 497–526.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  69. Pedrini, Seraina. 2014. Deliberative Capacity in the Political and Civic Sphere. Swiss Political Science Review 20 (2): 263–286.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  70. Peter, Fabienne. 2010. Democratic Legitimacy. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  71. Rawls, John. 1971. A Theory of Justice. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  72. ———. 1980. Kantian Constructivism in Moral Theory. The Journal of Philosophy 77 (9): 515–572.Google Scholar
  73. ———. 1993. Political Liberalism. New York: Columbia University Press.Google Scholar
  74. Risse, Thomas. 2000. ‘Let’s Argue!’: Communicative Action in World Politics. International Organization 54 (1): 1–39.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  75. Ryan, Mary. 1992. Women in Public: Between Banners and Ballots, 18251880. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press.Google Scholar
  76. Schoem, David. 2014. Finding a Seat for Social Justice at the Table of Dialogue and Deliberation. Journal of Public Deliberation 10 (1): 1–2.Google Scholar
  77. Shapiro, Ian. 1999. Enough of Deliberation: Politics Is About Interests and Power. In Deliberative Politics: Essays on Democracy and Disagreement, ed. Stephen Macedo, 28–38. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  78. ———. 2017. Collusion in Restraint of Democracy: Against Political Deliberation. Daedalus 146 (3): 77–84.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  79. Smyth, Lisa. 2005. Abortion and Nation: The Politics of Reproduction in Contemporary Ireland. Farnham: Ashgate.Google Scholar
  80. Stevenson, Hayley. 2016. The Wisdom of the Many in Global Governance: An Epistemic-Democratic Defense of Diversity and Inclusion. International Studies Quarterly 60 (3): 400–412.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  81. Stoker, Gerry. 2006. Politics in Mass Democracies: Destined to Disappoint? Representation: Journal of Representative Democracy 42 (3): 181–194.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  82. The Citizen’s Assembly. 2017. First Report and Recommendations of the Citizens’ Assembly: The Eight Amendment of the Constitution. Accessed 20 April 2018.
  83. Thompson, Dennis. 2008. Deliberative Democratic Theory and Empirical Political Science. Annual Review of Political Science 11: 497–520.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  84. Weber, M. 1947. The Theory of Social and Economic Organizations. New York: Free Press.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Nicole Curato
    • 1
  • Marit Hammond
    • 2
  • John B. Min
    • 3
  1. 1.Centre for Deliberative Democracy and Global GovernanceUniversity of CanberraCanberraAustralia
  2. 2.School of Politics, Philosophy, International Relations and EnvironmentKeele UniversityKeeleUK
  3. 3.Department of Social Sciences – Philosophy ProgramCollege of Southern NevadaNorth Las VegasUSA

Personalised recommendations