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Abstract

Among the most interesting contributions to contemporary deliberative democratic theory are a number of arguments against deliberation leveled by radical democratic theorists such as Iris Marion Young and Lynn Sanders. These theorists question the meaning and efficacy of deliberation based on deep and vital insights about the impact of structural inequalities and entrenched relations of power. We consider these insights to be critical cautions that deliberative democrats must confront, and offer a response that draws on both theory and practical experience. In particular, we suggest that careful attention to three fundamental challenges of deliberative practice, those of control, design, and democratic change, can go a long way towards ensuring that meaningful and effective deliberation is possible in the face of deep structural inequalities and complex power relations.

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