This book discusses public participation, drawn substantially on research carried out as part of the Economic and Social Research Council's Democracy and Participation programme as well as related work by the authors. It addresses the means in which public policy discourses construct notions of the public and engage with a diversity of publics in a plural polity. It explores the motivations of participants and the ways in which the identities and interests of officials and citizens are negotiated. It examines the ways in which institutions enable and constrain the development of public participation initiatives, including the way in which debate and dialogue can take place within participation forums, and what consequences such deliberations may have for public policies. It considers whether participation makes a difference to the conduct of officials or to the processes of delivering public services. Finally, it explores the dynamics produced as groups that have their origins in voluntary or community activity encounter public bodies seeking to engage in dialogue with them.
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