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Confronting the demands of a deliberative public sphere with media constraints

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  • Kleinschmit, Daniela
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    The main aim of this paper is to investigate and discuss the applicability of a normative meta-theory on empirical research. This is done by confronting the demands of a deliberative public sphere with assumptions resulting from media theory and discussing it on the basis of exemplary cases from environmental and forest policy cases. A core concept of this paper is Jürgen Habermas' notion of a deliberative discourse in the public sphere, where the essential elements for a democratic ideal are openness to speakers from the periphery of the political system, a discursive communication flow and a public consensus or a result supported by the majority. Since today's political public sphere mostly comprises the media public these elements are confronted with the constraints of the media. Theoretical approaches of media studies as well as empirical examples of debates on forest, agricultural and environmental policies in the media corroborates that the media lacks the function of deliberation. Nevertheless, normative demands allow empirical findings to be interpreted relative to expectations. Applying the theoretical concept of a deliberative democracy to the empirical cases of forest, agriculture or environmental policy already serves as a first step toward awareness of deliberation in public communication. It not only can exemplify the gap between normative ideals and the empirical approach but it highlights the degree of “grey” between the static poles of black or white used in entitling processes as deliberative or not deliberative.

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    Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Forest Policy and Economics.

    Volume (Year): 16 (2012)
    Issue (Month): C ()
    Pages: 71-80

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    Handle: RePEc:eee:forpol:v:16:y:2012:i:c:p:71-80
    DOI: 10.1016/j.forpol.2010.02.013
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    1. Clive L Spash, 2001. "Broadening democracy in environmental policy processes," Environment and Planning C: Government and Policy, Pion Ltd, London, vol. 19(4), pages 475-481, August.
    2. Leskinen, Leena A., 2004. "Purposes and challenges of public participation in regional and local forestry in Finland," Forest Policy and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 6(6), pages 605-618, October.
    3. Appelstrand, Marie, 2002. "Participation and societal values: the challenge for lawmakers and policy practitioners," Forest Policy and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 4(4), pages 281-290, December.
    4. Primmer, Eeva & Kyllonen, Simo, 2006. "Goals for public participation implied by sustainable development, and the preparatory process of the Finnish National Forest Programme," Forest Policy and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 8(8), pages 838-853, November.
    5. Bengston, David N. & Potts, Robert S. & Fan, David P. & Goetz, Edward G., 2005. "An analysis of the public discourse about urban sprawl in the United States: Monitoring concern about a major threat to forests," Forest Policy and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 7(5), pages 745-756, August.
    6. Dan Bloomfield & Kevin Collins & Charlotte Fry & Richard Munton, 2001. "Deliberation and inclusion: vehicles for increasing trust in UK public governance?," Environment and Planning C: Government and Policy, Pion Ltd, London, vol. 19(4), pages 501-513, August.
    7. Aasetre, Jorund, 2006. "Perceptions of communication in Norwegian forest management," Forest Policy and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 8(1), pages 81-92, January.
    8. John Parkins, 2006. "De-centering environmental governance: A short history and analysis of democratic processes in the forest sector of Alberta, Canada," Policy Sciences, Springer;Society of Policy Sciences, vol. 39(2), pages 183-202, June.
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