Deliberators, not Future Citizens: Children in Democracy
Centre for Deliberative Democracy & Global Governance, Institute for Governance & Policy Analysis, University of Canberra, AU
Kei Nishiyama is a Ph.D. student at Centre for Deliberative Democracy & Global Governance, Institute for Governance & Policy Analysis, University of Canberra. His research areas include the theoretical and empirical study of deliberative democracy, children’s political agency, and deliberation in the school (namely the practice of Philosophy for Children).
This paper is a “manifesto” for incorporating children into deliberative democracy. Although the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (1989) emphasizes children’s right to participation in the process of democracy, their activities and voices still do not receive the attention they merit. There exists a widespread skepticism reinforced by notions of socialization and remediation about children’s capacities, knowledge, experiences, and interests in democracy, and this leads to a conceptualization of children as “future citizens.” Drawing on the recent scholarship on deliberative democracy, particularly the deliberative system framework, this article reconsiders the capacities and actual contributions of children in democracy, and suggests reconceptualizing children as “deliberators.” The perspective of deliberative system in particular helps us to notice the agency and deliberative capacity of children not only in “empowered” decision-making spaces but also in the context of previously unnoticed various democratic activities.