Arabella Lyon: Deliberative Acts: Democracy, Rhetoric, and Rights

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Abstract / Description of output

Deliberations on human rights are pervasive features of democracies in an increasingly globalized world. These include deliberations within a nation or culture – such as gay rights debates in the United States or the United Kingdom – or those made in a nation or culture about another – such as discussions in the ‘West’ about the treatment of women in Afghanistan or India. In either case, theorizing the scope and import of such deliberations is a troublesome issue. Should the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) be treated as an unchallengeable standard, or are local norms to be valued? Do these deliberations reflect broader ideologies of liberalism versus conservatism, or simply cultural or traditional misunderstandings? Lyon boldly undertakes such a theorization; she offers a refreshing insight into human rights deliberations – and, by extension, on human rights – by treating them as performative deliberations in which knowing agents engage within specific contexts to effect change. In offering such a view, Lyon challenges extant theories on deliberative democracy and politics. Her theory of deliberation places performative aspects of discourse, situated accounts of rhetoric and a discerning agency at the core of the process, joining in a wider move towards more performative forms of social science.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)399-401
JournalDiscourse & Society
Issue number3
Early online date23 Apr 2015
Publication statusPublished - May 2015


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