Binary Deliberation: The Role of Social Learning in Divided Societies


The aim of this paper is to outline a new framework based on an extension and of the current theories of deliberative democracy. The framework, which I call “Binary Deliberation” emanates from an analysis of the social learning phase of deliberative activity. Deliberation, in the theories of deliberative democracy, is usually treated as a decision-making procedure. However, this approach falls short to appreciate the full benefits of the deliberative process. Binary deliberation argues for an analytical separation between social learning and decision-making phases of deliberation in order to allocate a distinct sphere to those specific moments of deliberation oriented to interpretation of differences rather than making decisions. The paper will also discuss the findings of two case studies from Turkey analysing the interaction between Islamic and secular discourses in the Turkish public sphere. The findings reveal a significant convergence between Liberal Left and Islamic groups in their attitude towards democratic values. This convergence indicates a new tendency in Turkish politics, yet its benefits cannot be fully realised until these groups deal with each other within the spheres of social learning.


Islam, Turkey, Divided Societies, Social Learning

How to Cite

Kanra B., (2012) “Binary Deliberation: The Role of Social Learning in Divided Societies”, Journal of Public Deliberation 8(1). doi:







Bora Kanra (Centre for Deliberative Democracy and Global Governance, Australian National University)





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