London Metropolitan University Research Institutes

Deliberative debate as a procedure of citizenship education and community building

Author(s) Wesołowska, E. & Sołoma, A.  
Publisher London: CiCe  
Year 2012  
Editor P. Cunningham & N. Fretwell (eds.) Creating Communities: Local, National and Global  
Age group -  
One idea of how to train young people in citizenship skills and help them develop their identity in heterogeneous societies stems from the concept of deliberative democracy. This ideological perspective claims that social controversies both on local and national level should be resolved by means of deliberative debates. This model of deliberation was developed by Amy Gutmann and Denis Thompson (based on works of Jürgen Habermas and John Rawls). Advocates of deliberative debates claim that participants in such discussions develop crucial citizenship skills like involvement and interest in community problems, autonomy and activity, and the ability to debate, argue and cooperate with opponents. Deliberation should, then, result in agreements that combine multiple perspectives and address the ‘common good.’ The problem, however, is that deliberative debate puts high requirements on participants as far as their cognitive, emotional and social functioning is concerned. This paper presents some empirical data that suggests the feasibility of deliberative debates and the positive outcomes it may have for real life conditions. The paper concludes with examples of the successful implementation of deliberative debates within the context of the formal educational system.

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