Democracy is always in the making: a never-ending project that requires constant rethinking and development. There are many ways of understanding and practicing democracy, and this article is concerned with those that put citizens at the heart of democratic life.
We need politics to mean more than party politics, elections and media rituals; and democracy to mean more than representative democracy. Reclaiming and recasting politics and democracy is a core challenge for participatory democrats. The key argument is that citizen participation can reinvigorate democratic life by infusing diversity, experience and knowledge into institutional decision making. The question is what kind of participation.
READ THE FULL ARTICLE HERE
This Research Note introduces a range of ‘mini-publics’ and outlines key features, how they work, and how they may improve opportunities for citizens to contribute to public deliberation and participatory governance.
The idea of mini-publics was first proposed four decades ago by political scientist Robert Dahl. Inspired by democratic ideals and social science principles, Dahl envisioned an innovative mechanism for involving citizens in dealing with public issues. He called it ‘minipopulus’: an assembly of citizens, demographically representative of the larger population, brought together to learn and deliberate on a topic in order to inform public opinion and decision-making. A growing number of democratic innovations have flourished around the world based on this idea, from Citizens’ Juries, to Planning Cells, Consensus Conferences, Deliberative Polls and Citizens’ Assemblies. Mini-publics have been used to deal with topics ranging from constitutional and electoral reform, to controversial science and technology, and myriad social issues (e.g. health, justice, planning, sectarianism).
The paper includes answers to frequently asked questions about mini-publics. You can also see more examples and resources on the What Works Scotland website.
Photo by Milin
In this project, the focus of the Citizens’ Juries discussions will be health inequalities and potential policy responses to these inequalities. We are organising three Citizens’ Juries in Summer 2016, one in Glasgow, one in Liverpool and one in Manchester. Each jury will last two days and will take place in July 2016.
For more information about the project please see our website where we will also post findings and publications in due course.
What Works Scotland is inviting those interested and involved in participatory budgeting to a morning session with international PB expert Giovanni Allegretti.
Monday 13 June from 11am to 13:00 at the University of Edinburgh (tea/coffee served from 10.45am, and lunch after the event at 1pm)
Participatory budgeting (PB) is gaining momentum in Scotland, with new processes developing across the country; over 20 Local Authority Areas undertaking capacity building programmes; and a new commitment in the SNP manifesto for the recent elections: “Setting Councils a target of having at least 1 per cent of their budget subject to Community Choices budgeting. This will be backed by the Community Choices Fund to help public bodies and community groups build on examples of best practice.”
This session provides an opportunity to hear about international PB experiences and how they compare to current developments in Scotland. A chance to discuss the principles and practicalities of PB, including emerging challenges and exciting prospects.
The session will be hosted by Oliver Escobar (WWS), and feature Kathleen Glazik, PB lead at the Scottish Government, who will provide reaction to Giovanni’s presentation as well as reflection about the future of PB in Scotland.
This event is free but places are limited. Please register to book your place here.
An exciting collaboration has been established between the Glasgow Centre for Population Health (GCPH) and What Works Scotland (WWS) to support the strategic and operational delivery of Participatory Budgeting within Scotland and beyond.
The first output from this collaboration is a joint publication by Chris Harkins and Oliver Escobar: Participatory budgeting in Scotland: an overview of strategic design choices and principles for effective delivery.
The paper takes stock of the policy context for PB in Scotland, and outlines ten strategic PB design choices and ten principles for effective delivery. The metaphor here is not ‘transplanting’ but translating and adapting. PB delivery organisations, communities and citizens involved in the PB process are thus encouraged to use the design choices and principles selectively, flexibly and reflectively as meets their specific purpose, need and context.
Five Ways to Make a Difference: Perceptions of Practitioners Working in Urban Neighborhoods
by Catherine Durose (University of Birmingham), Merlijn van Hulst (Tilburg University), Stephen Jeffares (University of Birmingham), Oliver Escobar (University of Edinburgh), Annika Agger (Roskilde University) and Laurens de Graaf (Tilburg University).
Listen to a 2 mins podcast about the paper
This article in Public Administration Review responds to and develops the fragmented literature exploring intermediation in public administration and urban governance. It uses Q-methodology to provide a systematic comparative empirical analysis of practitioners who are perceived as making a difference in urban neighborhoods.
Through this analysis, an original set of five profiles of practitioners—enduring, struggling, facilitating, organizing, and trailblazing—is identified and compared. This research challenges and advances the existing literature by emphasizing the multiplicity, complexity, and hybridity, rather than the singularity, of individuals perceived as making a difference, arguing that different practitioners make a difference in different ways.
The authors set out a research agenda, overlooked in current theorization, that focuses on the relationships and transitions between the five profiles and the conditions that inform them, opening up new avenues for understanding and supporting practice.
Conference: People making difference in communities
2nd October 2015, 9.30am – 4pm
Grassmarket Community Project
FREE REGISTRATION HERE
What Works Scotland is delighted to invite you to this one-day conference featuring leading scholars from Denmark, Netherlands, England and Scotland. They will be sharing and discussing their research, which focuses on ‘people who make a difference in communities’. The conference will be an opportunity to explore this international research with a range of practitioners from the public and third sectors, local communities and academia.
Dr Annika Agger, Roskilde University, Denmark
Dr Catherine Durose, University of Birmingham
Dr Laurens de Graaf, Tilburg University, Netherlands
Dr Merlijn van Hulst, Tilburg University, Netherlands
Dr Oliver Escobar, University of Edinburgh and What Works Scotland
A detailed programme will follow soon, but the conference will have two parts:
• In the morning, there will be four presentations and group discussions based on research and experiences in each of the four countries.
• In the afternoon, there will be the launch and discussion of the findings from a study conducted by the research team across the four countries, which maps out five ways in which ‘people make a difference in communities’. You can see more information about the study here: http://peoplemakingadifference.net
The focus for the day is on the ‘people’ (rather than the ‘structures’) who are driving a range of topical policy areas on the ground, including community engagement, partnerships, collaborative governance, neighbourhood management and community action. The speakers are leading researchers in this field, with years of experience learning and working with community and neighbourhood practitioners. The purpose of the conference is to explore how this research on ‘exemplary practitioners’ may contribute to generate debate and ideas to inform practice in communities and shape future research.
If you require any further information please contact:
Simon.Kershaw@ed.ac.uk (Events Manager)
Lynda.Frazer@glasgow.ac.uk (What Works Scotland Manager)
firstname.lastname@example.org (Conference Chair)
Involving communities in deliberation: A study of three citizens’ juries on onshore wind farms in Scotland
Interest in deliberative forms of public engagement is growing in Scotland. There have been many studies of deliberative participation across the globe, and in particular mini-publics such as citizens’ juries. But this new report is unique as it provides an unusually detailed account for practitioners, policy workers, decision makers and researchers interested in developing deliberative public forums.The three citizens’ juries were part of ClimateXChange’s research programme, and dealt with the issue of onshore wind farm development in Scotland.
Here is what people have said about the project and the report:
Minister for Local Government and Community Empowerment Marco Biagi MSP said: “Involving people and communities in decision-making leads to better results, more responsive services and gives communities the chance to have a say on how ideas are delivered.”
“This exciting project offers valuable lessons which will help our efforts to boost participation in local democracy and improve community engagement.”
Project Manager for ClimateXChange Ragne Low said: “This report provides robust evidence of how we can create processes that will be trusted by communities and balance different views. It also gives very practical advice about organising and facilitating good quality public engagement to support decision making.”
“Participatory forums like citizens’ juries are not an easy option. They need very careful planning and experienced facilitators who make sure that the process is balanced, inclusive and that all voices are heard. What we saw in the juries was real appreciation of getting balanced expert opinion and working through difficult questions together.”
Research Director Dr Oliver Escobar, said: “The research findings are very timely given the appetite for more participation at all levels of society in post-referendum Scotland.”
“To solve the many pressing problems of our time we need new political spaces that bring forth the voices of those seldom heard. Mini-publics like citizens’ juries may provide some of those spaces.”
For more information about the research project and the juries please click HERE.