Australian climate action groups in the deliberative system

Taylor & Francis (Routledge)
Publication Type:
Journal Article
Environmental Politics, 2015, 24 (3), pp. 363 - 381
Issue Date:
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© 2015, © 2015 Taylor & Francis. A systemic approach to deliberative democracy de-emphasises the role of discrete deliberative experiments involving minipublics. Instead, this systemic perspective focuses attention on the quality of deliberation achieved throughout distributed governance systems. It opens up the possibility that institutions that do not appear deliberative in isolation may have a positive impact on deliberation at a system scale. This systemic perspective is drawn on here to assess the role of climate action groups (CAGs) within Australia’s deliberative system on climate-change response. These self-organised, voluntary groups, made up of like-minded people with a shared concern about climate change, do not meet traditional criteria for advancing deliberation. Unrepresentative and lacking discursive diversity, they nevertheless advanced the quality of public deliberation by bringing new voices and preferences into public deliberation, holding decision makers accountable and acting as trusted information sources for at least some citizens. From a deliberative-systems perspective, self-organised, unrepresentative, but persistent groups such as CAGs may offer more fruitful sites for increasing public deliberation on climate change than temporary minipublics.
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