Taking Deliberation Seriously

Looking closer at deliberative approaches to Europan integration, this paper attempts to take deliberation down to an operational level by focusing on empirical, methodological and theoretical aspects.

ARENA Working Paper 14/2001 (html)

Jeffrey T. Checkel

For political theorists, Europeanists and constructivists within international-relations (IR) theory, deliberation is a process with potentially transformative effects. Indeed, students of deliberation are very open to the possibility that social agents may leave an interaction different from how they entered it. However, these commonsensical insights hide a good deal of controversy and gloss over unresolved analytic challenges. For example, is deliberation always a “good” thing? What theories and - equally important - methods should be used to study it? Just how prevalent is it in contemporary Europe? Can deliberative dynamics partly be captured by more nuanced versions of rational-choice theory?

My intention is not to provide comprehensive answers to these (and many other!) issues. Instead, I “take deliberation seriously” by asking three questions whose goal is to bring its study down to an operational, real-world level. Empirically, do deliberative dynamics ever occur? Theoretically, what toolkits are available for their study? Methodologically, whatever the toolkit employed, how would we recognize deliberation if we saw it?

Tags: socialization, deliberative democracy, Europeanization
Published Nov. 9, 2010 10:52 AM