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In spite of the global diffusion of democracy and a general commitment to democratic values, there is a widespread alienation from the political process in advanced democracies. Deliberative democracy has received much attention in recent years as a possible solution to this malaise. Its promise of a more engaged and collective form of politics has drawn the interest of policy makers and political philosophers - generating new avenues of thought in contemporary democratic theory as well as heated debates about its utility in practice. This book provides an ideal starting point in understanding the core concepts of deliberative democracy. It is the first text to offer a systematic introduction to the theories and debates in the field and to combine this with a detailed critique of both the theory and the practice of deliberative democracy. It examines the core values of deliberative democrats and evaluates the implementation of deliberative practices at the local, national and global level - considering, along the way, how far it is possible to introduce meaningful deliberative reform in existing democracies. Giving readers a state-of-the-art account of the field, this book addresses fundamental questions about deliberative democracy and also charts the future directions for contemporary democratic thought.