, Volume 31, Issue 6, pp 517-538
Date: 24 Dec 2011

Deliberative Democracy and Emotional Intelligence: An Internal Mechanism to Regulate the Emotions

Abstract

Deliberative democracy, it is claimed, is essential for the legitimisation of public policy and law. It is built upon an assumption that citizens will be capable of constructing and defending reasons for their moral and political beliefs. However, critics of deliberative democracy suggest that citizens’ emotions are not properly considered in this process and, if left unconsidered, present a serious problem for this political framework. In response to this, deliberative theorists have increasingly begun to incorporate the emotions into their accounts. However, these accounts have tended to focus only upon the inclusion of emotions in the external-collective exchange of reason between citizens. Little work has been done on how the individual will actually cope with emotions internally within their own minds. There has been no consideration of the capacities that citizens will need to perceive, understand and regulate emotions as they formulate reasons both by themselves and with others. Moreover, there has been little consideration of how these capacities might be educated in children so that emotionally competent deliberative citizens can be created. In this paper, emotional intelligence is presented as an essential capacity that can fulfil this role for the deliberative citizen and deliberative democracy more generally. The ‘deliberative school’ is suggested as a potential site for this transformation that can progress from generation to generation, cultivating citizens that are increasingly better equipped to handle emotionally-laden deliberative engagement.