Deliberative Democracy, Diversity and the Challenges of Citizenship Education

by Penny Enslin, Shirley Pendlebury, Mary Tjiattas
Journal of Philosophy of Education ()


For democracies to thrive, citizens have to be taught to be democrats. How do people learn to be democrats in circumstances of diversity and plurality? We address this question via a discussion of three models of deliberative democracy: public reason (as exemplified by Rawls), discursive democracy (as exemplified by Benhabib) and communicative democracy (as exemplified by Young). Each of the three theorists contributes to an account of how to educate citizens by teaching talk. Against a commonly held assumption that the protection of diversity in a pluralist democracy requires a thin conception of citizenship education, we defend a thick conception that simultaneously fosters autonomy and participation without sacrificing tolerance of diversity.

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