“Deliberating the Boundaries of the Demos: A Theoretical and Experimental Investigation”

Location: Buchanan C403, UBC Vancouver

The UBC Institute for European Studies,

the Centre for the Study of Democratic Institutions, and

the Department of Political Science

present a talk by

Prof. André Bächtiger

University of Lucerne

Deliberating the Boundaries of the Demos:

A Theoretical and Experimental Investigation”

Monday, March 17

Buchanan C403


N.B. This is a brown-bag event.   

Abstract: While political and legal philosophers have strongly advocated for including long-term immigrants into the political process, it is an open question how this could be realized in practice. In my talk, I relate deliberative theory to the political rights literature, both theoretically and empirically. There is a strong intuition that deliberation might constitute a mechanism to sensitize participants for the problématique of absent rights of long-term immigrants. Not only does deliberation incorporate the all affected-interest principle, its strong gear towards producing arguments that everyone can accept seems to turn deliberation into a mechanism that aligns the preferences of discourse participants with philosophical ideals. However, there is also a “communitarian” model of deliberation holding that “good reasons” arise out of communal values. Consequently, in “communitarian” deliberation participants might come to conclusion that long-standing immigrants must be excluded from political rights. Empirically, I focus on two deliberative experiments on political rights of foreigners – one with university students, and one with randomly selected citizens – in the Swiss canton of Geneva. While the student experiment manipulated different “communication modalities”, the citizen experiment confronted participants with different “frames” regarding political rights of foreigners. In both experiments, participants became less favourable to political rights after deliberation. The results of the experiments have important consequences for our understanding of how deliberation works in the context of “constitutional issues”; moreover, they also raise interesting questions how political rights can be realized in practice.

Bio: André Bächtiger is research professor of the Swiss National Science Foundation at the University of Lucerne. His research focuses on the challenges of mapping and measuring deliberation and political communication as well as understanding the preconditions and outcomes of high quality deliberation both in the context of representative institutions and minipublics. His research has appeared in Cambridge University Press, Journal of Political Philosophy, Political Studies, Journal of Conflict Resolution, European Political Science Review, and Acta Politica. He is currently co-writing a book on Mapping and Measuring Deliberation (with John Parkinson), forthcoming with Oxford University Press in 2014. He is also co-editor of the book Deliberative Minipublics (with Kimmo Grönlund and Maija Setälä), forthcoming with ECPR Press in 2014.