Beyond talk: The role of non-verbal communication in deliberative democracy

The Call for Proposals for the next IPSA World Congress of Political Science, to be held in Brisbane (Australia), 21-25 July 2018, is now open!

Proposals for panels and papers on any subject within political science are welcome. The Congress Theme “Borders and Margins” will be featured in specially organised topical sessions and events.

The website for the 25th World Congress of Political Science is now accepting proposals for panels and papers.

Call for Proposals Opens:             30 MAY 2017 Proposal Submission Deadline:  10 OCT 2017

Anyone can submit a proposal for a panel or paper. Proposers do not need to be a member of IPSA. If you do not currently hold an IPSA account, you will be asked to create one before submitting your proposal for a panel or paper.


Language English   Chair Dr. Selen A. Ercan   Co-chair Dr. Ricardo Fabrino Mendonca   Discussants Mr. Hans Asenbaum

Deliberative democracy has often been defined as a ‘talk-centric’ notion of democracy emphasising the centrality of citizens speaking to each other and/or to their representatives. The idea of talk or dialogical exchange has also been at the centre of deliberative practices such as mini-publics, open assemblies or councils. The rules of deliberation in these practices have been subject to intense scholarly debates and criticisms, pushing deliberative theory to expand in two important ways. The first expansion has been about the acceptable forms of communication in deliberative forums. Following Iris Young, many deliberative democrats have argued for the need to go beyond the rational speech requirement and allow the use of rhetoric, story-telling and greetings in public deliberation. The second expansion in deliberative democracy has come with the ‘deliberative systems’ approach, which suggested locating deliberation beyond the forum. Jane Mansbridge’s seminal piece on the importance of ‘everyday talk’ in public deliberation, in particular, has opened up new avenues for research and lead to key developments in the field.

Despite these two crucial developments in the growing field of deliberative democracy, deliberative theory has remained a talk-centric approach. The role of non-verbal practices such as silence, visuals, sit-ins, occupations, flash-mobs, hunger-strikes, walk outs or various other forms of performing an argument have received only limited attention from the scholars of deliberative democracy. The widespread use of such practices in contemporary democracies for expressing dissent in the public sphere demands greater attention from scholars to understand the role they play in public deliberation. This proposed IPSA panel seeks to do so by bringing together theoretical and empirical scholarly work that investigates the role of non-verbal communicative practices in public deliberation. It addresses – but is not limited to – questions such as:

• What non-verbal communicative practices should be taken into account by deliberative democrats? • How do non-verbal forms of communication affect deliberative processes? • How can non-verbal communicative practices be conceptualized as reason-giving? • When do non-verbal forms of communication hinder public deliberation and when do they enhance it? • What are the boundaries of deliberative democratic theory in conceptualizing non-verbal communicative practices?

Please send an abstract in accordance with the IPSA guidelines no later than 30 September 2017 to

Session GS09 Political Participation


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