The micro-politics of deliberation: case studies in public participation

Barnes, Marian; Newman, Janet; Knops, Andrew and Sullivan, Helen (2004). The micro-politics of deliberation: case studies in public participation. Contemporary Politics, 10(2) pp. 93–110.



The contemporary emphasis on public participation in policy making derives both from concerns to increase the legitimacy of public decision making and to develop more dialogic forms of governance, and from more 'bottom-up' action intended to ensure that the voices of those excluded from policy making are heard. This has resulted in diverse forms of participative practice, including forums in which social movement organizations meet officials, and forums initiated by officials to which 'the public' are invited. This article examines four case studies of participation, studied as part of research conducted in the ESRC Democracy and Participation programme. It focuses on a micro-level analysis of the dynamics of exchanges within such forums to question the capacity of such forums to generate alternative discourses within which policy problems can be defined and addressed.

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