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Interconnecting deliberative systems: Functions and agents of transmission

Stephen Elstub, Newcastle University

Tue 5 July 2016

11:00am - 12:00pm

The Dryzek Room, Building 22, University of Canberra


In recent times, the dominant focus in debates in the field of deliberative democracy has been on deliberative systems. The principal aim of the systemic approach is to promote deliberative democracy at the mass scale by utilising a division of labour in communicative activity between a diversity of interconnected parts. Despite this, ‘interconnection’ represents a lacuna within the systemic approach to deliberative democracy. There is broad agreement that public and empowered spaces need to be connected and that some form of discursive transmission is required to achieve this, however, little detail has been provided on what functions are vital to transmission, what type of agents can fulfil these functions, and how these agents could operate together. This paper contributes to filling this gap by identifying vital systemic transmission functions: dispersion, filtration, and penetration, which are necessary to avoid systemic pathologies emerging. It then proceeds to analyse the extent the media, mini-publics, and interest groups can contribute to fulfilling these transmission functions respectively.

About the speaker

Stephen Elstub ( is a Lecturer in British Politics at the School of Geography, Politics and Sociology, Newcastle University. His research interests are on deliberative democracy, citizen participation, civil society, public opinion and political communication. He is the author of Towards a Deliberative and Associational Democracy (Edinburgh University Press 2008), editor of Democracy in Theory and Practice (Routledge 2012) and co-editor of Deliberative Democracy: Issues and Cases (Edinburgh University Press 2014). He is also the associate editor of the journal Representation.

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