Associations, Deliberation, and Democracy: The Case of Ireland’s Social Partnership

By Niamh Gaynor:


(…) [D]oes civic associational engagement at micro levels leave scope to engage laterally across associations and vertically with members and citizens thereby sustaining a vibrant, active public sphere? Is civic associational engagement within micro-policy fora “good” for democracy in a substantive sense? The answer to this has to be a qualified “it depends.” As the Irish case has shown, it depends on the nature of the state and its development project; it depends on its relations with civic actors across all spheres; it depends on the discursive and communicative norms allowed within micro fora; it depends on the interests, motivations, and actions of civic actors involved; and most particularly, it depends on how civic participants within micro fora interact with their peers and counterparts without. Whatever the answer, the question is an extremely important one. In the Irish case, civic engagement within Social Partnership appears to have eroded democracy.

Read full article at Politics & Society 2011 39: 497




When full transparency is invisibility

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