Adaptive demarchy: a flexible model of deliberative democracy for an uncertain political context

Zaphir, Luke Benjamin Scott (2017). Adaptive demarchy: a flexible model of deliberative democracy for an uncertain political context PhD Thesis, School of Historical and Philosophical Inquiry, The University of Queensland. doi:10.14264/uql.2017.791

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Author Zaphir, Luke Benjamin Scott
Thesis Title Adaptive demarchy: a flexible model of deliberative democracy for an uncertain political context
School, Centre or Institute School of Historical and Philosophical Inquiry
Institution The University of Queensland
DOI 10.14264/uql.2017.791
Publication date 2017-06-02
Thesis type PhD Thesis
Supervisor Gilbert Burgh
Marguerite La Caze
Total pages 178
Language eng
Subjects 2203 Philosophy
Formatted abstract
In 1985 Australian philosopher John Burnheim theorised an alternative to electoral politics that aimed to improve the coherence of policy. Partisan politics was becoming a barrier to pragmatic decision-making, amid the power-broking, vote trading and the inability of elections to create a coherent picture of an electorate’s preferences. Demarchy, as he called it, used a decentralisation of authority based on government function rather than on geographical constituencies to better focus democratic deliberation. His model of democracy is, he claims, legitimised through a more accurate representation of the citizens’ interests. Eligibility to participate in a demarchic decision-making body is determined by a person’s legitimate material interest in a given issue, with participants to be chosen through a random selection mechanism.

Burnheim’s proposal came immediately before a profound shift in the discourse on democratic theory; the 1990s and 2000s brought about a substantial debate on deliberative democracy and a revival of pragmatism. The changing epoch meant that demarchy was overlooked, regarded as utopian and impractical in an age that emphasised deliberative legitimacy rather than liberal or republican justifications for governance.

My thesis re-situates demarchy to this modern discursive context. I reconstruct demarchy as a model of deliberative democracy, making inquiry and public justification central to its legitimacy. However, genuine inquiry and authentic deliberation are difficult to achieve unless participants have the skills and dispositions needed to engage in this manner. The development of citizens to engage in a deliberative manner is crucial, and, therefore, I argue that demarchy can also be used as a learning process for citizenship. Demarchic bodies can provide opportunities for participants to conjointly construct their understanding of a given issue, creating conditions for strong decisionmaking and developing their capacities for deliberation.
Keyword Demarchy
Sortition
Cultural citizenship
Deliberative democracy
Citizenship
Community of inquiry

Document type: Thesis
Collections: UQ Theses (RHD) - Official
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Created: Tue, 23 May 2017, 16:04:52 EST by Luke Zaphir on behalf of Learning and Research Services (UQ Library)