Expanding the Deliberative Repertoire: Visuals, Sounds and Presence as Deliberative Forms of Claim Making

Dr. Ricardo Fabrino Mendonca

It has now been acknowledged that protests have deliberative potential, especially when deliberation is understood in systemic terms, as a broad conversation that occurs in various sites beyond structured forums. Protests do not only exemplify the variety of sites where deliberation occurs, but also direct our attention to the new practices and repertoires of deliberative claim making. They show that claim making can and does go beyond the rational speech-acts communicated through words (written or spoken). In the context of recent protest movements, in particular, we see diverse examples of these alternative repertoires using visual materials and sounds to communicate discontent and catch public attention. In this paper, we consider the examples of those alternative repertoires and discuss their implications for deliberative democracy. We focus particularly on the communicative power of visual materials (photography, graffiti, memes, GIF images), sounds (music, drums, silence) and physical presence of individuals (with their colors, masks, bodies and activities) in occupied public spaces. We argue that these repertoires become deliberative insofar they i) enable the inclusion of marginalized actors and ideas, ii) engage with existing discourses, in their attempt to challenge the dominant norms and power relations, and iii) induce reflection and thus offer alternative ways of understanding and addressing the issues at stake.