Two approaches to communicative rationality: analysing democratic deliberation and collective learning processes


  • Marcos Engelken-Jorge Humboldt Universität zu Berlin


Palabras clave:

Discourse, discourse theory, deliberation, deliberative democracy, Jürgen Habermas, communicative rationality, collective learning


Political theory’s deliberative turn has provided novel theoretical insights, variously interpreted, into the rationality of communication. The goal of this research note is to clarify how these theoretical arguments and concepts have informed empirical research. To this end, a number of studies in this area are examined, and the argument is made that at least two research models inform empirical research, each of which embraces different methodological perspectives and understandings of the concept of discourse. The standard, political theory approach regards discourse as a regulative ideal, with which to assess actual political communication and empirically identify cases of deliberation. Furthermore, it adopts a co-variational explanatory template. The narrative, social theory model sees discourse as a counterfactual ideal in the heads of participants in communication, and assumes a narrative methodological perspective. These two models imply different theoretical choices with different implications for empirical research.

Biografía del autor/a

Marcos Engelken-Jorge, Humboldt Universität zu Berlin

Marcos Engelken-Jorge is a Marie Curie Fellow at Humboldt Universität zu Berlin. He received his doctoral degree in Political Science from the University of the Basque
Country, where he worked as a doctoral and then postdoctoral researcher. His research interests are in contemporary democratic theory, the sociology of the public sphere, and democratic innovations. His work on these and other topics has appeared in collective volumes and journals such as Critical Horizons, Política y Sociedad, Journal of Political Ideologies and Foro Interno: Anuario de Teoría Política. His current research project, LearningDemoi, seeks to bring together the concepts of deliberative democracy and collective learning, and advance our empirical understanding of the latter.


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Cómo citar

Engelken-Jorge, M. (2016). Two approaches to communicative rationality: analysing democratic deliberation and collective learning processes. Revista Española De Ciencia Política, (41), 141–158.



Notas de investigación