New evidence review: equality in community engagement

evidence reviewEquality and community engagement are central to core policy developments and frameworks that guide current public sector reform: i.e. Christie Commission on the Future Delivery of Public Services; Community Empowerment Act 2015; Fairer Scotland; Convention of Scottish Local Authorities’ Commission on Strengthening Local Democracy.

The key motivation for this review of the literature is to explore the intersection between community engagement and inequality. This is important because inequalities in health, wealth, income, education and so on, can be arguably seen as stemming from inequalities in power and influence. Therefore, community engagement processes can simply reproduce existing inequalities, unless they are designed and facilitated to distribute influence by ensuring diversity and inclusion.

Find out more and download the publication in our WWS website.

What are Mini-publics?

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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.

Introduction:

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.

 

 

 

 

New report for Participatory Budgeting practitioners, activists and policy makers in Scotland and beyond

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.

PB Harkins-Escobar front cover

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.

Everything you ever wanted to know about Citizens’ Juries…

ReportInvolving communities in deliberation: A study of three citizens’ juries on onshore wind farms in Scotland

Executive Summary

Full Report

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.