Among the growing literature on deliberative democracy there are two diverging streams of thought,each implying a different role for civil society. Micro deliberative theorists, with their focus on the procedural conditions for structured fora,encourage civil society to engage in collaborative practices, usually with the state. In contrast, macro deliberative democrats, who are interested in the messy and informal deliberation in the public sphere, advocate that civil society should work discursively outside and against the state.This article explores some of the implications of these conflicting roles, taking into account two observations from deliberative practice: first, that all micro deliberative fora are surrounded and impacted by their macro discursive context, and second, that some actors in civil society are more willing and capable of deliberating than others.To conceive of deliberative democracy as an entirely micro or macro enterprise is not only unrealistic, but potentially exclusive. The article advocates for a more viable and inclusive deliberative theory; one that integrates all kinds of deliberation from the micro to the macro.To this end, public deliberation is best conceptualised as an activity occurring in a range of discursive spheres that collectively engage a diversity of civil society actors.
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