Deliberation naturalized: improving real existing deliberative democracy

Ana Tanasoca

Research output: Book/ReportBookpeer-review


Democratic theory’s deliberative turn has hit a dead end. It is unable to find a good way to scale up its small-scale, formally organized deliberative mini-publics to include the entire community. Some turn to deliberative systems for a way out, but none have found a credible way to deliberatively involve the citizenry at large. Deliberation Naturalized offers an alternative way out—one we have been using all along. The key sites of democratic deliberation are everyday political conversations among people networked across the community. Informal networked deliberation is how all citizens deliberate together, directly or indirectly. That is how public opinion emerges in civil society. Networked deliberation satisfies the classic deliberative desiderata of inclusion, equality, and reciprocity reasonably well, albeit differently than standard mini-publics. Reconceptualizing democratic deliberation in this way highlights some real threats to the networked mode of deliberative democracy, such as polarization, message repetition, and pluralistic ignorance. Deliberation Naturalized assesses the extent of each of those threats and proposes ways of protecting real existing deliberative democracy against them. By focusing on the mechanisms underpinning every democratic deliberation among citizens, Deliberation Naturalized offers a truly novel approach to deliberative democracy.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationOxford, UK
PublisherOxford University Press
Number of pages282
ISBN (Electronic)9780198851479
ISBN (Print)9780198851479
Publication statusPublished - 2020


  • networked deliberation
  • deliberative system
  • deliberative democracy
  • epistemic democracy
  • political disagreement
  • mini-public
  • polarization
  • scaling up
  • public opinion
  • political talk


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