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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
Paperback, 232 pages, 234 x 156 mm
Other formats available
14 Feb 2007


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North America customers can order this book here from the University of Chicago Press.

"Around the world - including the UK - new policies and innovations in public participation are re-shaping the contours of how and where citizens engage with public institutions. Drawing from diverse theoretical perspectives on social movements, deliberative democracy and institutional design, this book provides us rich empirical case studies from across the UK of what actually happens when publics and public bodies engage with one another. In so doing, the authors skilfully interrogate whether and how these new participatory spaces can fulfil their claims to empower citizens, improve public services and re-vitalise political life. An excellent and challenging read, the book should become a core text for students, practitioners and policy makers everywhere who are concerned with exploring the transformative possibilities of citizen participation and inclusive democracy."
John Gaventa, Professor, Institute of Development Studies, University of Sussex, UK

About This Book

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

Author Biography

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.


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