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Deliberative Pragmatic Equilibrium Review: A Framework for Comparing Institutional Devices and their Enactment of Deliberative Democracy in the UK


  • Stephen Elstub

Research Highlights and Abstract

This article:

  • Presents a framework for comparing institutions and their ability to enact various norms of deliberative democracy across various stages of the policy process and different levels of governance.
  • Specifically contextualises this framework for application in the UK.

A range of institutional mechanisms have been advocated to ensure the practical application of deliberative democracy, and these are now being employed in practice throughout the UK. However, different institutional mechanisms will be suited to the enactment of variant democratic principles and will be able to adapt to some features of complexity and not others. This means certain institutional devices will be able to operate effectively at different levels of governance, but not at others, and contribute to some, but not all, stages of a decision-making sequence, within different political systems. A comprehensive and systematic comparison of the relationship these institutions have to deliberative democracy is therefore required so that these institutions can be effectively sequenced to ensure all the key elements of deliberative democracy are enacted in the UK political system, at each level of governance and stage of decision-making. This article therefore develops the ‘Deliberative Pragmatic Equilibrium Review’ (DePER) framework to enable such a comparison of institutional mechanisms, with respect to how they enact key principles of deliberative democracy, by combining normative and empirical analysis through the employment of Fung's ‘pragmatic equilibrium’ approach. The framework is applicable to all political systems, but is here tailored specifically for institutional comparison in the UK, although it is not applied to concrete cases in this article.