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Discourse, Participation And Sociological Theory

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Chapter Summary

This chapter explores the relevance of sociological theory to an acute modern societal problem, the problem of participation in democratic societies. Extended forms of political participation are called for on a wide variety of fronts as a possible contribution to the solution of highly complex and often partisan issues of collective decision-making and coordination. It examines the relationship between public participation and sociological theory. It takes up and seeks to combine a number of frontlines in sociological theory, viz, the status of normative given the rise of discursive sociology and the associated relationship between what author describes as normative-pragmatic theories and the strong theory of differentiation represented by Luhmann. The chapter suggests that there is potential for a critical synthesis of differentiation and pragmatic traditions in order to propose some ideas on how participation in contemporary democracies can be sociologically addressed from the standpoint of discourse and political structure formation.

Keywords: democratic societies; discourse; normative-pragmatic theories; political structure; public participation; sociological theory



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