Insincere Deliberation and Democratic Failure

Timur Kuran

An enduring challenge of democracy is to give citizens an effective say in collective decision making by ensuring broad participation in political discourse. Deliberative opinion polling aims to meet this challenge by providing new opportunities for ordinary citizens to form educated opinions. This approach to broadening deliberation does not aim to control substantive outcomes, unlike conceptions of deliberative democracy that promote improved dialogue while also restricting the possible outcomes. But both classes of reform overlook the prevalence of democratic failures stemming from social pressures that discourage open and honest communication. New avenues fror dialogue will remain clogged unless supported by political institutions that protect dissenters, and by a political ethic that rewards candor.

Critical Review, 12 (Fall 1998): 529-544.