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Deliberative ecologies: Viewing deliberative systems as complex systems

Jonathan Pickering, University of Canberra

Tue 12 June 2018

11:00am - 12:00pm

The Dryzek Room, Building 22, University of Canberra


The ‘systemic turn’ in deliberative democratic theory has yielded valuable insights on how individual sites of deliberation – from parliamentary debates to citizens’ juries and community meetings – interact as parts of a broader deliberative system. This body of work invokes selected ideas from transdisciplinary research on systems, such as the notion that a system as a whole may have characteristics that cannot be reduced to those of its parts. However, there is much more in the broader repertoire of systems/complexity theory that could shed light on how deliberative systems operate and how they could be improved. In this paper I identify several features of complex systems that are relevant for understanding deliberative systems, including feedback loops and non-linear dynamics. I then show how two nascent concepts in research on deliberative systems – ‘deliberative ecologies’ (Mansbridge et al 2012) and ‘deliberative networks’ (Knops 2016) – could be elaborated through a complex systems lens.

About the speaker

Jonathan joined the Centre for Deliberative Democracy and Global Governance in 2015. He is a Postdoctoral Fellow working with Professor John Dryzek on his Australian Research Council Laureate Fellowship project, ‘Deliberative Worlds: Democracy, Justice and a Changing Earth System’.

He completed his PhD in philosophy at the Australian National University, based in the Centre for Moral, Social and Political Theory and graduating in 2014. His thesis explored opportunities for reaching a fair agreement between developing and developed countries in global climate change negotiations. Before joining the University of Canberra he taught climate and environmental policy at the Crawford School of Public Policy at ANU, and has been a Visiting Fellow at the Development Policy Centre at ANU since 2014.

Jonathan’s research interests include the ethical and political dimensions of global climate change policy, global environmental governance, development policy and ethics, and global justice.

He has a Masters' degree in development studies from the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE), and undergraduate degrees in arts and law from the University of Sydney. Previously he worked as a policy and program manager with the Australian Government's international development assistance program (AusAID, 2003-09).

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