Selling Social Profits in Public Deliberation
This chapter examines the multilayered moralization of the public deliberation market in order to elucidate how moral values associated with politics affect the practical production of political processes. Using a multimethod field study, it looks at the production and promotion of civic spaces and how deliberative reforms are marketed to sponsors as civic, socially productive interventions protected from both profit-seeking and politicized interests. The chapter first provides an overview of the deliberation consulting industry before contextualizing the economic dimensions of public deliberation and the ways that social profits are sold. It then considers notions of deliberative democracy and “designer democracy” and goes on to discuss professional deliberation consultants' moral discourses of their simultaneous embrace of anticommercialism and accountability that both have their roots in the contemporary “cultural circuit of capitalism.” Finally, it explains how the particular manner in which public deliberation is transformed into civic-ized markets contributes to its utility as one form of quiet regulation for sponsors.
Keywords: moralization, professional deliberation consultants, civic spaces, deliberation consulting industry, public deliberation, social profits, deliberative democracy, anticommercialism, accountability, civic-ized markets
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