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Participatory Paradoxes: Diverse Democracies and Issues of Inclusion

Sat, September 2, 12:00 to 1:30pm PDT (12:00 to 1:30pm PDT), Virtual, Virtual 20

Session Submission Type: Created Panel

Session Description

While democratic systems of government necessarily entail some form of rule by the ‘people’, political participation is unequal and political power is unevenly distributed within diverse societies. Established institutions and the decisions they produce routinely favour some groups and marginalise others. This discrepancy between democratic ideals and realities has been long recognised through the study of representative institutions, and has contributed to growing scholarly interest in the potential for participatory and deliberative processes to promote more inclusive political decision-making. Recognising the paradoxes that often characterise issues of participation, this panel aims to critically evaluate possible pathways towards greater inclusion in diverse democracies. While referendums open up decision-making to all voters, do these majoritarian tools inevitably lead to outcomes that undermine the interests of minorities? While deliberative forums may broaden opportunities for more consensual forms of participation, do they simply privilege groups which already dominate other aspects of political life? While the unrepresentative nature of representative institutions has regularly been highlighted, what forms of under-representation should receive particular attention? And in the very study of democracy itself, how can we make the process of democratic theorizing more inclusive? This panel addresses these distinct yet connected issues through a combination of normative and empirical approaches.

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