Making Democratic Contestation Possible: Public Deliberation and Mass Media Regulation
Charles Girard, "Making democratic contestation possible: public deliberation and mass media regulation", Policy Studies, 36 (3), 2015, p. 283-297. DOI :10.1080/01442872.2015.1065968
29 Pages Posted: 24 Mar 2021
Date Written: 2015
While recent democratic theory has insisted upon the contestability of public policies as a key source of democratic legitimacy, the role mass media should play in fostering public contestation has yet to be specified. The role of deliberative theory in particular should be to try to identify which standards mass communication needs to meet in order to provide a general forum for democratic contestation. This article focuses on the theoretical foundations of such a project. It puts forward three claims. First, the contestability of public policy can only be a source of democratic legitimacy if citizens have the opportunity to participate in public contestation through – among other forums – a general public forum that is endowed with a deliberative dimension. Second, media pluralism alone is insufficient in providing such a public forum: both external standards (related to the independence of mass media) and internal standards (related to the norms guiding media practices) need to be satisfied. Third, and as a consequence of the preceding two, the democratic contestability of public policies presupposes effective mass media regulation that goes beyond the promotion of media pluralism. Democratic contestation requires more than a “marketplace of ideas”.
Keywords: contestatory democracy; deliberative democracy; contestation; public sphere; mass media; regulation; marketplace of ideas
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