This proposal pursues three objectives. First, to contribute to our understanding of the processes of ideational change that are triggered by public communication. In particular, it concentrates on the decentring and re-centring of socially shared structures of meaning. This is a topic that will be addressed empirically through three case studies. Second, by dealing with this question, this project is expected to contribute to deliberative theory's current endeavour to formulate more realistic models of public deliberation. In this regard, rhetorical and systemic perspectives have gained momentum within deliberative theory in the last years, showing a similar ambition to link normative political theory, on the one hand, and empirical research and actual political practice on the other; as well as to develop a more realistic macro approach to deliberative democracy, in contradistinction to previous approaches focusing on minipublics and specific participatory arenas. This project should be understood against this background. Its working hypothesis says that the theoretical framework developed by Habermasian cognitive sociology can illuminate the (communicatively) rational dimension of actual processes of ideational change, paving the way for a more realistic, yet normatively informed, perspective on public deliberation. Finally, this proposal, along with additional training activities, has been designed to support the fellow in attaining a leading independent position by enhancing his international visibility and integration in the European academic community.
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