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Toxic narratives in the deliberative system: how the ghost of Nanny stalks the obesity debate

Toxic narratives in the deliberative system: how the ghost of Nanny stalks the obesity debate
Toxic narratives in the deliberative system: how the ghost of Nanny stalks the obesity debate
The deliberative systems’ account makes room for all sorts of communication and action that the classical account of deliberative democracy excluded. But should this leniency also extend to the representation of toxic narratives which aggressively oppose expertise and vilify marginalised groups? This comparative analysis explores the implications of marginalising such narratives from empowered sites of policy advice and formation. It contrasts the more restrictive Australian obesity debate, where the toxic, anti-Nanny State narrative on this issue has become taboo, with the more permissive British one, where this narrative is aired more fully throughout the deliberative system. The findings show that wider and deeper expression of the anti-Nanny State narrative in the UK has a number of net deliberative and democratic benefits. Such expression forces experts and other political actors to engage with different sorts of rationalities, enables the transformation and moderation of claims associated with this narrative to meet the dignified norms associated with empowered sites, and ultimately works to reinforce the legitimacy of political decision-making on this issue. These findings make the case for enabling representation of toxic narratives, albeit in filtered or dignified form, right across deliberative systems to empowered sites.
0144-2872
Boswell, John
34bad0df-3d4d-40ce-948f-65871e3d783c
Boswell, John
34bad0df-3d4d-40ce-948f-65871e3d783c

Boswell, John (2015) Toxic narratives in the deliberative system: how the ghost of Nanny stalks the obesity debate. Policy Studies. (doi:10.1080/01442872.2015.1065966).

Record type: Article

Abstract

The deliberative systems’ account makes room for all sorts of communication and action that the classical account of deliberative democracy excluded. But should this leniency also extend to the representation of toxic narratives which aggressively oppose expertise and vilify marginalised groups? This comparative analysis explores the implications of marginalising such narratives from empowered sites of policy advice and formation. It contrasts the more restrictive Australian obesity debate, where the toxic, anti-Nanny State narrative on this issue has become taboo, with the more permissive British one, where this narrative is aired more fully throughout the deliberative system. The findings show that wider and deeper expression of the anti-Nanny State narrative in the UK has a number of net deliberative and democratic benefits. Such expression forces experts and other political actors to engage with different sorts of rationalities, enables the transformation and moderation of claims associated with this narrative to meet the dignified norms associated with empowered sites, and ultimately works to reinforce the legitimacy of political decision-making on this issue. These findings make the case for enabling representation of toxic narratives, albeit in filtered or dignified form, right across deliberative systems to empowered sites.

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Accepted/In Press date: 5 May 2015
e-pub ahead of print date: 2 September 2015
Organisations: Politics & International Relations

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 376835
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/376835
ISSN: 0144-2872
PURE UUID: 5d34efc4-2a48-4fca-86d2-8c315b3cae13
ORCID for John Boswell: ORCID iD orcid.org/0000-0002-3018-8791

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Date deposited: 12 May 2015 13:32
Last modified: 20 Mar 2020 01:33

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