Author Biography

Carey Doberstein is Assistant Professor of Political Science at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver.


The “systemic turn” has been one of the most important developments in deliberative democracy in the past decade. Through a deliberative systems approach, scholars and practitioners are challenged to think about ways in which various venues and institutions interact together to produce a healthy democratic subsystem. One major challenge to this approach, however, is its methodological weakness. How exactly are various venues and institutions connected? How do they interact with each other? What conceptual tools are available in making sense of the deliberative system?

This article proposes the use of “venue coupling” and “actor circulation” to operationalize some of the key concepts of the deliberative system. Through the case of the Local Health Integration Networks in Ontario, Canada, this article maps the governance system, its institutional and interpersonal components, and their interconnections (or lack thereof). By drawing together key concepts in deliberative democracy and network governance, this article sketches out a framework that can be used to analyze governance contexts in which deliberative practices are fused with traditional political institutions like legislative bodies and bureaucracies.