ASLI Working Paper Series

Publication Title Building Inclusive and Just Societies: The Role of Deliberative Theory
Publisher Asian Law Institute
Series WPS016
Publication Date Nov 2010
Author/Speaker Puja Kapai Paryani
This paper starts from the premise that the nation-state model which enables nationals to participate in their own governance is an outdated model of political organisation in an age where plurinational states have become the norm. Drawing on the works of several political theorists who have sought to reconcile the status and role of cultural and national minorities in these states using liberal accommodation, tolerance, integration or multicultural accommodation and self-governance, this paper questions the central bases of the theories advanced. The paper argues that citizenship needs to be reconstrued to include everyone as having an equal and reciprocal duty in their own governance, including minorities. The current failure of the nation state model which has served to entrench differences and exclusion is attributable to the limited perception of immigrant and ethnic minorities as mere subjects of the polity. This view of immigrant and ethnic minority people as passive subjects as opposed to active and interactive members of the polity, distorts their role in the political apparatus of the state, ignoring their concerns, interests and capacities for political agency. In arguing that the inclusion of these groups into the state’s political structure and in the development of law and policy would serve numerous purposes, the paper draws on various theories of justice. The fundamental premise for such inclusion is that belonging and loyalty are cultivated through processes that require regular engagement with other groups, including minorities, in deliberative decision-making processes. Through the creation of a space for inter- and intra-group dialogue, the development of a national political identity whilst enabling the maintenance of subjective community identities becomes possible.The inclusion of minority groups in this process can help cultivate feelings of membership, commonality of purpose and ultimately, trust. In time, this trust can be capitalized upon to achieve justice through inclusion. Deliberation theory, it is argued, has an important and indispensable role in building just and inclusive societies, particularly multicultural polities.
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