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
Marian Barnes is Professor of Social Policy at the University of Brighton. She has researched user involvement and public participation for many years. Janet Newman is Professor of Social Policy at the Open University, Milton Keynes. She has published extensively on issues of governance and on challenges to the public sphere and public services. Helen Sullivan is Professor of Urban Governance at the University of the West of England, Bristol. She specialises in the study of collaborative governance.
Introduction: Participation in context; Inclusive democracy and social movements; Shaping public participation: public bodies and their publics; Re-forming services; Neighbourhood and community governance; Responding to a differentiated public; Issues and expertise; Conclusion: power, participation and political renewal.