Activism, Inclusion, and the Challenges of Deliberative Democracy
296 pages, 6 x 9
Release Date:15 Mar 2022
Release Date:01 Mar 2021
Release Date:01 Mar 2021
Release Date:01 Mar 2021

Activism, Inclusion, and the Challenges of Deliberative Democracy

UBC Press

Deliberative democracy – whereby people debate competing ideas before agreeing upon political action – must surely rest on its capacity to include all points of view. But how does this inclusive framework engage with activism that occurs outside of, and in opposition to, deliberative systems themselves?

Activism, Inclusion, and the Challenges of Deliberative Democracy challenges the inherent contradiction of a framework that includes activism but doesn’t require sustained exchange with activists, instead measuring the value of their efforts in terms of broader deliberative democratic outcomes. Through the examples of ACT UP, Black Lives Matter, and other contemporary activism, Anna Drake explores the systemic oppression that prevents activists from participating in deliberative systems as equals. Pointing to the failure of deliberative democracy to confront oppression, she develops an alternative theory of activism-as-deliberation that recognizes the normative importance of activism, making a key distinction between contributing to and deliberating with.

When systemic inequalities affect people’s perceptions of political legitimacy, activism cannot be meaningfully integrated. This nuanced study concludes that deliberative democrats must address activism on its own terms, external to and separate from deliberative systems that are shaped by injustices. Only then can activism’s distinct democratic contribution be taken seriously.

Political scientists, sociologists, and philosophers working in contemporary democratic theory will find this book insightful, as will grassroots activists and scholars of race and gender studies, cultural pluralism, and social justice.

When many are considering the value in and strategy for engaging with ones' political opponents, this book offers the beginning of a model. Lesley J. Wood, York University, Mobilization
This book offers a comprehensive and compelling study of deliberative democracy and activism. Anna Drake expertly dissects the shortcomings of well-meaning attempts to include activism in deliberative systems, elaborating an alternative account of ‘activism-as-deliberation’ that values protest without co-opting it. William Smith, associate professor, Government and Public Administration, The Chinese University of Hong Kong
Anna Drake is an assistant professor in the Department of Political Science at the University of Waterloo. She has published in journals such as Contemporary Political Theory and Studies in Ethnicity and Nationalism, and has contributed to collected volumes on topics including diversity in democratic politics and normative justifications for democratic design.


1 Deliberation, Power, and Institutional Design

2 Inclusion and Democracy

3 Activism and Democratic Contestation

4 The Limits of Activist Participation

5 Activism-as-Deliberation

6 Deliberative Polities


Notes; Bibliography; Index

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