Centre for Deliberative Democracy and Global Governance Seminar

Deliberating about Social Norms

Tue 24 November 2015Speaker: Dr Ana Tanasoca, University of CanberraVenue: The Dryzek Room, Building 22, University of Canberra


Bad social norms often endure on the basis of pluralistic ignorance. Deliberation about norms can be used to reveal and dissolve pluralistic ignorance surrounding such norms, promoting thus norm change. In this paper, I first discuss the emergence and persistence of bad norms, and introduce the concept of pluralistic ignorance. I next offer examples of bad social norms that changed as a result of dispersing pluralistic ignorance. I then explore the conditions under which deliberation is most successful dissolving pluralistic ignorance surrounding norms. I argue in favour of adopting the Chatham House rule in deliberations, which provides the right balance of publicity and secrecy for these purposes. Finally, I consider some objections to my proposal, comparing deliberation to its main competitor, sample surveys. I suggest ways in which the two can be combined to compensate for the weaknesses of one another.


I joined the Centre for Deliberative Democracy and Global Governance in 2015 as a postdoctoral research fellow working with Professor Dryzek on his Australian Research Council Laureate Fellowship project Deliberative Worlds: Democracy, Justice and a Changing Earth System.

I completed my PhD in normative political theory at the University of Essex (Government department) in 2015 with a thesis on the ethics of multiple citizenship. My thesis discusses the moral legitimacy of different grounds of acquisition of multiple citizenship as well as its consequences for collective decision-making and global justice. It also advances a series of policy proposals to reform citizenship as we know it.

I am interested especially, but not exclusively, in global (economic) justice, epistemic democracy, immigration ethics and citizenship, and deliberative democracy and broadly in applied ethics and democratic theory. 

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