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Weber’s Dilemma and a Dualist Model of Deliberative and Associational Democracy

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Stephen ElstubORCiD



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License (CC BY-NC 4.0).


If deliberative democracy is to be more than a critique of current practice andachieve the normative goals ascribed to it, its norms must be approximated inpractice and combine its two elements, popular deliberation with democraticdecision-making. In combining these, we come across a Weberian dilemma betweenlegitimacy and effectiveness. One of the most popular methods for institutionalizingdeliberative democracy, which has been suggested, is citizen associations in civilsociety. However, there has been a lack of precise and detailed discussion abouthow such a system could link macro deliberations in public spheres with micro andformal decision-making arenas. This paper aims to amend this and offers a dualistmodel, which ensures that deliberation and decision-making are linked, and aneffective balance between the Weberian dilemma is achieved, through the samesecondary associations fulfilling both roles. The first part of this strategy focuses onthe informal public sphere and its networks and their potential to foster deliberativecommunication between secondary associations and between these associations andthe state that helps transform preferences and set the agenda for decision-making.The second part is mediating forums, organized by quangos, with devolved powers,where representatives from secondary associations assemble to make decisionsbased upon the norms of deliberative democracy. If deliberative democracy can beapproximated in practice then it becomes a more persuasive theory as it means thenormative goals attributed to it could actually be achieved, which is why the dualistmethod is significant.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Elstub S

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Contemporary Political Theory

Year: 2008

Volume: 7

Issue: 2

Pages: 169-199

Print publication date: 01/05/2008

Date deposited: 02/03/2016

ISSN (print): 1470-8914

ISSN (electronic): 1476-9336

Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan


DOI: 10.1057/palgrave.cpt.2007.21


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