Most theorists of deliberative democracy treat deliberation as a procedure in decision-making. This approach neglects an important phase oriented not so much to decision-making but to social learning and understanding. Combining deliberative theory with research from social psychology, Bora Kanra has developed an innovative critique and synthesis by allocating social learning its own formal sphere. For deliberative democracy to produce better outcomes, decision-making needs to be reinforced by opportunities for social learning. Stressing the importance of the development of democratic dialogue in divided societies, Kanra tests his claims of a new deliberative framework by analyzing interaction between Islamic and secular discourses in the Turkish public sphere. This in-depth analysis of converging and diverging political beliefs and traditions between seculars and Islamists emphasizes the importance of social learning in a sharply divided society. A groundbreaking and illuminating insight into the prospects for democratic development in Turkey, Islam, Democracy and Dialogue in Turkey reveals an emerging dynamic in Turkish politics representing a new opening in political practice.
Bora Kanra is ARC Australian Postdoctoral Fellow at the Australian National University, Australia
'In this unusual work, which combines normative political theory with empirical opinion research and deliberative discourse analysis, Bora Kanra analyzes the major political divisions in Turkish society and comes to a surprising conclusion: on important issues such as human rights and the limits of state power, a strong convergence exists between the democratic new left and sectors of the Islamist movement in Turkey. Kanra argues that deliberative processes can help build convergences during the opinion formation stage in complex and strongly divided societies. A truly successful integration of empirical and theoretical research by a rising scholar of political theory.' Seyla Benhabib, Yale University, USA '...I see this as an exceedingly valuable contribution that makes a number of highly intriguing observations. I would hope that both politicians and journalists in Turkey will read it as it does make strides in finding agreement between groups one normally would not expect to agree. In addition, stupents of political science or Middle Eastern and/or Ottoman/Turkish history will find this text to be quite valuable.' Digest of Middle East Studies