A Critical Assessment of ‘Between Deliberative and Participatory Democracy: A Contribution on Habermas’ By Denise Vitale
Habermas has suggested that’ more democracy’ will lead to the completion of the Enlightenment project of rationality. It is widely known that Habermas has sought to develop various instruments for this task, such as a strengthening of communicative rationality in order to enhance democratic practice. His conception of deliberative democracy, drawn from the amalgamation of a liberal focus on justice and a republican perception of negotiations and self-understanding, aims to improve the practice of democracy.
Similarly Denise Vitale, in her article ’Between Deliberative and Participatory Democracy: a contribution on Habermas’ (2006,) stresses the importance of democracy. However, she questions the Habermasian conception of democracy, due to its lack of concern with social and economic justice, and its failure to illustrate concrete procedures for institutionalizing democratic processes. Thus, she developed her own conception of Participatory democracy, and stresses its focus on social and economic inequalities. As a result, she concludes that a Habermasian focus on deliberation combined with a concern for social and economic justice can enhance democratic practice.
This essay looks deeper into Vitale’s perception of Habermasian deliberative conception and finds that, in fact, she fails to employ key concepts in the way that Habermas intended. Moreover, Habermas’ aim to legitimise the process of deliberative democracy can also be argued to have failed, succeeding only to prompt us to ask the right questions. Last, but not least, the essay will illustrate that Vitales’ interpretation of participatory democracy underestimates the voting usage.