Journal of the Graduate School of Letters;Volume 2


Risk Communication and Deliberative Democracy: How Democratic Is Risk Communication?

Fukamizu, Mamoru

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Since the late 1980s, many risk communication studies have discussed the importance of democratic procedure. Such studies have emphasized the introduction of lay opinions and viewpoints into the policy process rather than technocratic policy making, two-way (interactive) communication rather than one-way one, and mutual understanding or consensus rather than persuading the public to accept the experts' judgments. In short, risk communication studies have required more and more citizen engagement in the policy making process. But despite the emphasis on "democracy", many of these risk communication studies have overlooked the importance of democratic procedure itself, whereas they seem to focus on achieving desirable outcomes by using it in risk communication practice. If democratic risk communication deserves the name of "democracy", how democratic is risk communication? For this reason, this paper aims to find a clue to evaluating risk communication from the standpoint of political philosophy. So, to explain the democratic feature of risk communication, I attempt to compare it with public participation from the perspective of deliberative democracy, which is an emerging concept in political theory and political philosophy. In the second section, I outline the risk communication studies which focused on democracy from the late 1980s to the early 1990s, and the grounds for regarding the democratic model as democratic. In the third section,I discuss the reasons for requiring public participation in risk-related decision making. In the fourth section, I examine the differences between risk communication and public participation. And the final section pursues the possibility of evaluating risk communication from the perspective of deliberative democracy. Whereas this approach is overly speculative, it will provide the meanings of the term "democracy" in risk communication study.