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Rethinking the publicInnovations in research, theory and politics$
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Nick Mahony, Janet Newman, and Clive Barnett

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9781847424167

Published to Policy Press Scholarship Online: March 2012

DOI: 10.1332/policypress/9781847424167.001.0001

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Mediating the publics of public participation experiments

Mediating the publics of public participation experiments

(p.15) Two Mediating the publics of public participation experiments
Rethinking the public

Nick Mahony

Policy Press

This chapter begins from the normative proposition – in the Power enquiry of 2006 and elsewhere – that the polity and the public sphere are in crisis, and that this crisis needs to be addressed through enhancing opportunities and modes of participation. In each of the three case studies (of a participative budgeting exercise, a TV game show, and a social movement gathering), it shows how claims are made about the value of direct forms of participation over a discredited and unresponsive form of institutional politics. The first section of the chapter illuminates some of the contradictory qualities of the publics summoned up through publicity materials. The second section uses the work of sociologists of experimentation to reflect on the particular forms these events took and on the practices of facilitation. The last section examines how people interacted during the bouts of participation during each event.

Keywords:   public engagement, budgeting exercise, game show, social movements, institutional politics

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