Chapter 5

common deliberation. Nonetheless, the transformative power of commercial media should not be exaggerated. Only already-successful public actors receive media attention, thus producing yet another institutionally caused cycle of political poverty that can be corrected only by the emergence of a new public.

So what is the answer to Lippmann's question: Where is the "phantom" public in complex and pluralist societies? It is certainly the case that the democratic public is organized for decision making by political institutions. So organized, the inchoate public may become a deliberatively formed majority. But the public in this sense is constantly changing as emerging new publics eventually become deliberative majorities. In well-ordered and pluralistic democracies, the emergence of publics is not rare at all; it is a constant feature of ongoing public discourse. Unless it is responsive to public opinion, political power cannot be generated and regenerated in public interaction, nor can institutions successfully promote deliberation. The emergence of new publics therefore ceases only when cultural understandings become rigid and when normal politics within institutions becomes non-deliberative and non-democratic.

This view of democratic innovation fits the model of deliberation I have been defending throughout this book. According to this view, the democratic public sphere is not a structure but a process: it is the process by which emerging collective actors appeal not to a "phantom" public but to other citizens in ways that are consistent with the requirements of equality, non-tyranny, and publicity. Sometimes this process creates a new constitutive public which interacts with democratic institutions in ways that change how the public is formed into deliberative majorities. Once again this public is no phantom; however, it may not yet be formed, and it mayor may not even eventually emerge. The close connection between the emergence of new publics and processes of change should not be surprising. In order to remain democratic and open to popular renewal, complex societies require institutional learning in open, dynamic, pluralist form of public deliberation. Even if innovations begin outside of institutions, they prepare the way for learning and renewal in them when institutional deliberation fails.

Conclusion: Deliberative Democracy and Its Critics

Deliberative democracy places great demands on both ordinary citizens and political institutions. For this reason, many of its critics have argued that deliberative democracy is an unworkable ideal under any circumstances, indeed one that accentuates all the typically mentioned weaknesses of democracy. Such criticisms often hit the mark of those theories of deliberative democracy that fail to consider relevant social facts of pluralism, inequality, and complexity. Communitarian and associative theories fail in this respect, although for quite different reasons. Communitarians attempt to enrich democracy by restoring a shared conception of the common good according to which citizens make politics one of their highest values. Such a deliberative perfectionism demands that political judgments meet the test of public virtue rather than the test of continued cooperation among groups with different values and beliefs. Although not perfectionist, associative and civil-society theories also demand much from citizens, most especially their voluntary participation in a variety of associations and organizations. Such associations are insufficient in the face of the complexity and scale of modern societies. Whereas communitarians demand too much of citizens, associative theorists demand too much of civil society. I have proposed a conception of public deliberation and its dualist institutions that is an alternative to both of these one-sided conceptions of democracy.

Neither communitarian nor associationist models offer workable solutions to the main difficulties facing deliberative democracy that I