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Power, participation and political renewal

Power, participation and political renewal: Case studies in public participation

Marian Barnes
Janet Newman
Helen Sullivan
Copyright Date: 2007
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  • Book Info
    Power, participation and political renewal
    Book Description:

    Public participation is central to a wide range of current public policies - not only in the UK, but elsewhere in the developed and the developing world. There are substantial aspirations for what enhanced participation can achieve. This book offers a critical examination of both the discourse and practice of participation in order to understand the significance of this explosion in participatory forums, and the extent to which such practices represent a fundamental change in governance. Based on 17 case studies across a range of policy areas in two English cities, the authors address key issues such as: the way in which notions of the public are constructed; the motivation of participants; how the interests and identities of officials and citizens are negotiated within forums; and the ways in which institutions enable and constrain the development of participation initiatives. Much of the literature on public participation is highly normative. This book draws from detailed empirical work, theories of governance, of deliberative democracy and social movements to offer a nuanced account of the dynamics of participation and to suggest why experiences of this can be frustrating as well as transformative. This book will be essential reading for students of public and social policy and offers important insights for those directly engaged in developing participation initiatives across the public sector

    eISBN: 978-1-84742-229-3
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-ii)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. iii-iii)
  3. Acknowledgements
    (pp. iv-iv)
  4. ONE Introduction
    (pp. 1-6)

    Recent developments in public policy have emphasised the need for greater public participation in decision making and for new forms of democratic practice. More and better public participation is viewed as capable of improving the quality and legitimacy of decisions in government, health services, local government and other public bodies, as well as having the potential to address the ‘democratic deficit’ (Stewart, 1999) and to build community capacity and social capital. The aspirations are high:

    Public participation could radically improve our quality of life. It can contribute to creating more active citizens, help manage complex problems in public service design...

  5. TWO Participation in context
    (pp. 7-32)

    Securing the participation of citizens in the governance of their societies is currently presenting a challenge to governments worldwide. In many western democracies public participation rates are falling and cynicism about government and politics is the dominant feature. The resultant concern about low levels of public participation reflects an underlying unease about the health of western liberal democracies and the legitimacy of their modes of governance (Daemen and Schaap, 2000; Smith, 2005). Further afield, evidence from recent studies undertaken in the southern hemisphere reveals concern among citizens about institutional corruption, a disconnection between governing bodies and the lives of citizens...

  6. THREE Inclusive democracy and social movements
    (pp. 33-52)

    In Chapter Two we discussed the way in which the discourse of public participation has evolved within public policy in the UK and beyond, and described the way in which the practice of participation has developed in relation to this. In this chapter we consider other influences on these processes of democratisation. First, we discuss how concerns about the way in which public services are managed and governed, and about the decline of political participation through voting, have led to an advocacy of more deliberative forms of politics and policy making as key elements of modern governance (for example, Newman,...

  7. FOUR Shaping public participation: public bodies and their publics
    (pp. 53-70)

    Much of the literature on public participation is highly normative; the emphasis is on how new ways of engaging with the public can empower citizens, open up new forms of consumerism and choice, involve the public as stakeholders in communities or in the improvement of public services, or induce more responsible attitudes and behaviours. This normative emphasis stems in part from the policy climate discussed in Chapter Two, where public participation is viewed as a means of improving public services and delivering more effective outcomes; but it has also been generated by some of the academic work discussed in Chapter...

  8. FIVE Re-forming services
    (pp. 71-98)

    For many citizens, their relationship with the state is experienced primarily through their experiences of using services provided by or through government. The potential of increased public participation will be judged by many participants by its capacity to generate services that are of better quality, more responsive, culturally appropriate and designed in ways that reflect their lives and circumstances rather than the preferences and interests of service providers. The significance of public services to the lives of most citizens, particularly at times and in circumstances when personal resources may be low, or when they have no option other than to...

  9. SIX Neighbourhood and community governance
    (pp. 99-134)

    The ‘neighbourhood’ is receiving increasing attention from politicians and policy makers at all levels throughout Europe (Allen and Cars, 2002). Targeted neighbourhoods are subject to major ‘revitalisation’ programmes, stimulated by government and frequently undertaken in partnership. Neighbourhoods have also proved attractive as spaces for community governance in which the complexity, fragmentation and remoteness from the public of the prevailing system may be overcome by combining network organisation and a citizen orientation (Sullivan, 2001b, 2002; McLaverty, 2002). Intertwined with these ambitions is an aspiration that neighbourhoods might also contribute to renewing democracy through the development of new pathways for public participation...

  10. SEVEN Responding to a differentiated public
    (pp. 135-164)

    In contrast to the case studies considered in the previous two chapters, where forums were established in order to improve services, or were linked to new models of neighbourhood and community governance, the cases we consider here all had their origins in the voluntary sector and/or in social movements. Each focused on a particular category of public, differentiated from others in terms of presumed commonalities of interest or identity; that is, they required people to claim a particular social identity based on age, gender, sexuality or other characteristic. In this chapter we consider five case studies: two senior citizens’ forums,...

  11. EIGHT Issues and expertise
    (pp. 165-182)

    In the previous chapter we saw how publics constituted by reference to particular identities may find it hard to secure space for public deliberation in the context of official participation discourses and policies that prioritise community as ‘place’. In this chapter we consider two examples of initiatives that have even less of a profile within contemporary democratic practice: initiatives that are based around campaigns and policy making in relation to specific issues. The fact that we only studied two such examples, one in each of the case study cities, is in itself evidence of the much lower profile of such...

  12. NINE Conclusion: power, participation and political renewal
    (pp. 183-206)

    The case studies in this book have not been presented as examples of ‘good practice’ in public participation. Rather, they highlight a set of issues and raise a series of questions that we argue might productively be addressed in future policy and practice. The value of the case study material lies in the detailed empirical work that underpins it: that is, our arguments and analyses go beyond normative approaches to public participation (this is whatshouldhappen, or this is what organisationsoughtto do to get the process right). There are already a host of practical guides and handbooks,...

  13. References
    (pp. 207-220)
  14. Index
    (pp. 221-228)