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SAGE Publications


Deliberative democracy grounds its legitimacy largely in the ability of speakers to participate on equal terms. Yet theorists and practitioners have struggled with how to establish deliberative equality in the face of stark differences of power in liberal democracies. Designers of innovative civic forums for deliberation often aim to neutralize inequities among participants through proportional inclusion of disempowered speakers and discourses. In contrast, others argue that democratic equality is best achieved when disempowered groups deliberate in their own enclaves (interest groups, parties, and movements) before entering the broader public sphere. Borrowing from each perspective, the authors argue that there are strong reasons to incorporate enclave deliberation among the disempowered within civic forums. They support this claim by presenting case study evidence showing that participants in such forums can gain some of the same benefits of deliberation found in more heterogeneous groups (e.g., political knowledge, efficacy and trust), can consider a diversity of viewpoints rather than falling into groupthink and polarization, and can persuade external stakeholders of the legitimacy of the group’s deliberations.



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