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.
Making Conversations Count
24th and 25th March 2014
This is the 16th time that Wendy Faulkner and I deliver this course for the Beltane Network. The focus is on public engagement practice in research and policy contexts, with particular attention to dialogue, deliberation and facilitation skills.
The course is very hands-on, using several techniques and providing many opportunities to practice. It’s also a great chance to meet people from various fields, and who are interested in how dialogic communication can make a difference.
We hope you may join us!
By Oliver Escobar, with photos from Emilio Pérez.Published by Edinburgh Beltane (UK Beacons for Public Engagement).Free PDF HERE.
The rhetoric of dialogue is sometimes adopted rather uncritically in academic, organizational, and policy circles. Too often that rhetoric is deployed with little understanding of the variety of principles and practices enacted in dialogic communication. How can dialogue be conceptualized and distinguished from other forms of communication? On what assumptions is it based? How is communication understood? What does it take to facilitate it? What kinds of processes make it possible? What ideas about democracy underpin it? What kind of changes in academic and policy-making cultures does it call for?
This booklet seeks to speak to people involved in creating public forums for meaningful conversations. In particular, I have taken as imaginary readers those practitioners and students that I have had the fortune to work with. If, with pragmatist and deliberative thinkers, we agree that communication is the very fabric of democratic life, then analysing and improving the quality of communication in the public sphere becomes critical. Understanding dialogic communication helps us to interrogate our public engagement work, the role our research institutions should play in society, and the ways in which we can develop collective capacity to deal with complex problems.
27 and 28 November, Royal College of Surgeons, Edinburgh
This two-day course is sponsored by Gengage (The Scottish Healthcare Genetics Public Engagement Network) and is open to anyone who has a professional or personal interest in facilitating dialogues about healthcare genetics, particularly in a Scottish context.
The course gives practical advice and is provided free-of-charge. Bursaries may be available to cover travel and accommodation costs where these might otherwise prohibit someone from attending.
The course has been developed and is delivered by Wendy Faulkner in collaboration with Heather Rea and Oliver Escobar