Our colleague Cathrine Holst (University of Oslo) has published the article “Deliberative Systems Theory and Citizens’ Use of Online Media: Testing a Critical Theory of Democracy on a High Achiever” on the journal Political Studies, co-authored with Hallward Moe (University of Bergen). The article focuses on the proper role of experts in democratic deliberation, with a particular emphasis on social media use and debate. Here a snapshot of the research:
Deliberative systems theory is a promising candidate for a normative theory of democracy that combines ideal requirements with feasibility. Yet, recent theoretical elaborations and studies of citizens’ online media use inspired by the theory suffer from an incomplete account of the public sphere’s epistemic function, too rough interpretations of participatory levels, shortcomings in the understanding of online media, and a context-insensitive notion of policy reform. Addressing these weaknesses, the article argues for a refined version of deliberative systems theory. Particular attention is given to feasibility considerations. Reviewing studies of online democracy in Norway, the article shows that the theoretical critique has practical significance. It is also argued that the amended version of the deliberative systems approach produces a diagnosis of Norwegian online democracy more in line with reasonable expectations to a high achiever. This is taken as a prima facie indicator of feasibility.
Prof Cathrine Holst is the leader of the PEriTiA Work Package Trust Advice Mechanisms. This research line investigates and compares the existing systems through which experts assume an advisory role in policy making decisions in four European countries. She is Professor at the Department of Sociology and Human Geography, and Research Professor at ARENA Centre for European Studies, University of Oslo. Among her research interests are democracy research and theory, public policy, the role of expertise in policymaking, governance in Europe’s Nordic countries.