Convenors: Enrico Biale & Valeria Ottonelli

In the last few years the mainstream theory of deliberative democracy has been criticized because it underestimates the value and role of self-interest and partisanship in the political arena. For this reason, deliberative democracy has been accused of (i) lacking any capacity for guidance in real politics (practical critique), (ii) misrepresenting the very nature of politics (ontological critique) and (iii) excluding the least advantaged and their perspectives from the political realm (normative critique). Should these critiques lead to a revision of the deliberative ideal? And if so, along which lines?

This workshop aims to explore the role that interests and partisanship should play in deliberative democracy. Papers discussing these issues in the light of specific case studies (e.g., international, political, and industrial negotiations) are especially welcome.

The following is a representative (and non-exhaustive) list of topics of discussion:

Deliberative constraints: if self-interest is to be included within the scope of democratic deliberation, should we talk of ‘deliberative bargains’? Which values and criteria should constrain these forms of deliberation?

Object and site of deliberation: can interests and partisanship play a role in deliberation over any possible topic? Or any possible level (constitutional, legislative, etc.)? Or should they be limited to specific sites and topics?

Agents of deliberation: Who are the proper agents in a deliberative bargaining? Which forms of partisanship and political mobilization are compatible with, or should be encouraged by, the ideal of deliberative democracy?

Abstracts of 300-500 words should be sent to Enrico Biale ( or Valeria Ottonelli ( by the 1st of June 2011