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Power, participation and political renewalCase studies in public participation$
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Marian Barnes

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9781861346681

Published to Policy Press Scholarship Online: March 2012

DOI: 10.1332/policypress/9781861346681.001.0001

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Participation in context

Participation in context

(p.7) Two Participation in context
Power, participation and political renewal

Marian Barnes

Janet Newman

Helen Sullivan

Policy Press

This chapter outlines the development of different discourses of public participation and user and citizen empowerment in UK public policy and situates each in its international context, identifying core themes and drivers. The ‘empowered public’ discourse is not exclusively related to spatially located communities despite being the focus of much government policy, but includes interventions that seek to ‘empower’ communities of interest or identity, e.g. Black and minority ethnic groups, women, young people, older people, disabled people, and carers. The chapter explores developments in English local governance under New Labour, describing the key elements of public participation policy and locating the impulses for public participation in several different discourses. The implications of recent research and evaluation findings about the fate of New Labour's public participation interventions suggest that institutional resistance effectively limits any meaningful exchange taking place between the public and relevant government bodies, and ultimately prevents any wholesale transformation of local outcomes.

Keywords:   empowered public, public participation, empowerment, UK, New Labour, ethnic groups, disabled people, women

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