Participation in context

Marian Barnes, Janet Newman and Helen Sullivan

in Power, participation and political renewal

Published by Policy Press

Published in print February 2007 | ISBN: 9781861346681
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9781447303053 | DOI:
Participation in context

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This chapter outlines the development of different discourses of public participation and user and citizen empowerment in UK public policy and situates each in its international context, identifying core themes and drivers. The ‘empowered public’ discourse is not exclusively related to spatially located communities despite being the focus of much government policy, but includes interventions that seek to ‘empower’ communities of interest or identity, e.g. Black and minority ethnic groups, women, young people, older people, disabled people, and carers. The chapter explores developments in English local governance under New Labour, describing the key elements of public participation policy and locating the impulses for public participation in several different discourses. The implications of recent research and evaluation findings about the fate of New Labour's public participation interventions suggest that institutional resistance effectively limits any meaningful exchange taking place between the public and relevant government bodies, and ultimately prevents any wholesale transformation of local outcomes.

Keywords: empowered public; public participation; empowerment; UK; New Labour; ethnic groups; disabled people; women

Chapter.  9840 words. 

Subjects: Social Movements and Social Change

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