Deliberation, Domination and Decision-making

in Theoria
Author: Judith Squires
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Feminist critiques of deliberative democracy have focused on the abstraction, impartiality and rationality of mainstream accounts of deliberation. This paper explores the claim, common to many of these critiques, that these features are problematic because they are gendered, and that a more women-friendly account of democracy would embrace corporeality, contextuality and the affective. While acknowledging the merit of such a claim, the paper nonetheless suggests that the pursuit of social justice and democratic inclusion actually leads many feminists to embrace a modified account of deliberative democracy, albeit in a modified account form. This can be explained by the dialogical conception of impartiality offered by theories of deliberative democracy. The paper suggests that the embrace of deliberative democracy by feminist theorists is a positive move, to be more widely acknowledged. Moreover, once acknowledged, feminists have much to offer deliberative democrats in terms of considering what the pursuit of dialogic impartiality might entail. If conceived as demanding both a 'lack of bias' and 'inclusivity', attention needs to be focused squarely on the issue of inclusion, and the institutional and material conditions for securing inclusion in deliberation.

Theoria

A Journal of Social and Political Theory

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