Quinlan Bowman

Centre for Deliberative Democracy and Global Governance, Institute for Governance and Policy Analysis, University of Canberra
Quinlan Bowman's picture

Job Candidates

Mark Bevir, Joshua Cohen, Chris Ansell, Chris Kutz
Political Theory and Philosophy, Comparative Politics, Methodology
Personal Statement: 

I joined the Centre for Deliberative Democracy and Global Governance as a Postdoctoral Research Fellow in 2016, after completing my PhD in Political Science at the University of California, Berkeley.

Currently, I am working on a book project, based on my PhD dissertation, entitled “Deliberative Democracy as Reflexive Social Inquiry.” The project juxtaposes selected aspects of the literature on deliberative democracy with ideas drawn from pragmatist approaches to ethics and social inquiry. Broadly speaking, pragmatists theorize by explicitly drawing on the resources provided to us by our actual practices and by reflecting on the consequences they have for actual lives. I deploy pragmatist ideas to develop a normative theory of the democratic process, meant as a contribution to a public philosophy for citizen participation in democratic governance under conditions of significant cultural diversity. The theory is developed through what I refer to as “anthropological-interpretive inquiry” into lived experiences with “treatment as free and equal in joint or collective decision-making.” The theory is basically a deliberative one; yet, my pragmatist orientation makes me critical of certain depictions of deliberative democracy.

While at the Centre, I will also be collaborating with John Dryzek on his Australian Research Council Fellowship project, Deliberative Worlds: Democracy, Justice and a Changing Earth System. In particular, we will be collaborating on the topic of “deliberative cultures.” Cognitive science suggests that deliberation manifests a universal human competence to reason collectively. Yet, the character of deliberation varies considerably across space and time. Cross-cultural studies of political deliberation thus promise to provide new insight into the various forms that deliberative practices can take and the various circumstances in which they can flourish.

A third project, jointly undertaken with Mark Bevir at the University of California, Berkeley, is entitled “Innovations in Democratic Governance.” The book project, based on a previously published book chapter by the same name, explores how direct citizen participation can feature throughout the varied stages of the public policy cascade. It discusses a range of democratic innovations for public participation. Drawing on case studies from all over the world, the project investigates how public participation can operate at multiple geographical scales – ranging from the neighborhood level all the way up to the transnational – and illustrates how participation at different levels might be linked up. The discussion explores ways that citizens might craft their own rules for participation; monitor those rules and the policies they help generate; and cooperatively implement their own local policies. It also investigates ways in which the role of experts and officials might be transformed into one of largely supporting and facilitating public participation.


Graduate Students

Primary Subfield: 
Political Theory & Philosophy
Secondary Subfield: 
Comparative Politics