Equality 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.
This brief 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 paper also includes answers to frequently asked questions.
download the brief 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.
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.
‘Deliberation and Development: Rethinking the Role of Voice and Collective Action in Unequal Societies’, edited by Patrick Heller and Vijayendra Rao
“Deliberation and Development is a true landmark that establishes, surveys, and celebrates a rich field of study with crucial practical relevance. The striking and sometimes counterintuitive insights formulated by its contributors concerning the broad reach of deliberation should prompt rethinking of crucial questions in development, as well as reformulation of key aspects of the theory of deliberative democracy.”
Prof. John Dryzek, Centre for Deliberative Democracy and Global Governance, University of Canberra.
The book is published under a Creative Commons license and can, therefore, be downloaded for free HERE.
This book marries two fields that rarely converse with one another: deliberative democracy and development studies. The study of deliberation has emerged as a critical area of study over the past two decades. Concurrently, the field of development has seen a spurt of interest in community-led development and participation premised on the ability of groups to arrive at decisions and manage resources via a process of discussion and debate. Despite the growing interest in both fields, they have rarely engaged with one another.
This book, which brings together new essays by some of the leading scholars in the field, deepens our understanding of participatory decision making in developing countries while initiating a new field of study for scholars of deliberation. In the process, it sheds light on how to best design and implement policies to strengthen the role of participation in development. Contributors: Arjun Appadurai, Gianpaolo Biaocchi, Peter Evans, Archon Fung, Varun Gauri, Gerry Mackie, Jane Mansbridge, Paromita Sanyal, JP Singh, Ann Swidler, and Susan Watkins.