Can a model of deliberative democracy be successful in situations of high conflict? To develop a response, I take a hard case, defined by violent conflict and divisiveness: South Africa at the end of the apartheid era. Using a mixed inductive-deductive approach to examining twelve primary documents, the emerging evidence shows that deliberation was not realized. Political talk was centred around a negotiating framework, and while the documents analyzed showed elements of inclusion, equality, and empowerment – important aspects of the deliberative model – they were at best partially-fulfilled deliberative conditions. But this did not mean a failure of deliberation. Even in a negotiating framework, these partial conditions were able to emerge due to the catalyst of fear, defined as a fear of violence shared by participants. This catalyst acted as a motivator for action, propelling parties to enter discussions committed, if only verbally, to more deliberative aspects.
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Thesis advisor: Johnson, Genevieve Fuji
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