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Linking mini-publics to the deliberative system: a research agenda

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The systemic turn in deliberative democratic theory has shifted the focus away from seeking to design separate, internally deliberative ‘mini-publics’ and towards a new appreciation of their external, systemic quality. Yet, so far, such accounts have not gone beyond recognising a potential for mini-publics to contribute to deliberative systems. In this paper, we argue that a systemic conceptualisation of mini-publics must recognise their fundamentally ambivalent character: Since mini-publics have the potential both to foster and to undermine systemic deliberation, it is insufficient to celebrate their positive potential alone, and vital to develop frameworks that allow for a critical evaluation of mini-publics’ systemic role. To this end, we propose a framework based on the systemic qualities of deliberation-making, legitimacy-seeking and capacity-building, and conclude that key to mini-publics’ quality, when judged against these criteria, is not just their own features, but the degree of ‘co-development’ of all system components.




Curato, N., & Böker, M. (2016). Linking mini-publics to the deliberative system: a research agenda. Policy Sciences, 49(2), 173–190.

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