Political Theory 49 (4):554-583 (2021)

Abstract
This essay explores the problem of legitimation crises in deliberative systems. For some time now, theorists of deliberative democracy have started to embrace a “systemic approach.” But if deliberative democracy is to be understood in the context of a system of multiple moving parts, then we must confront the possibility that that system’s dynamics may admit of breakdowns, contradictions, and tendencies toward crisis. Yet such crisis potentials remain largely unexplored in deliberative theory. The present article works toward rectifying this lacuna, using the 2016 Brexit and Trump votes as examples of a particular kind of “legitimation crisis” that results in a sequence of failures in the deliberative system. Drawing on recent work of Rainer Forst, I identify this particular kind of legitimation crisis as a “justification crisis.”
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DOI 10.1177/0090591720968596
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