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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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Neighbourhood and community governance

Neighbourhood and community governance

(p.99) Six Neighbourhood and community governance
Power, participation and political renewal

Marian Barnes

Janet Newman

Helen Sullivan

Policy Press

This chapter discusses neighbourhood-based participation, a major feature of public policy under the New Labour governments in the UK. It presents case studies examining the experiences of officials and parents in two different areas, exploring the purchase these official discourses have had on local participants, and their impact on the practices of each local programme. Two of the case studies illustrate the way in which dual discourses found expression in New Labour's Sure Start programme. Four of the cases were ‘officially sponsored’ initiatives, so the chapter explores the impact of existing institutional rules and norms on these emergent neighbourhood bodies, considering the extent to which they were adopted, resisted and/or replaced, and the effect of these institutional influences on the nature and quality of the resultant participation. Three dominant experiences of institutions were evident in the case studies, i.e. institutions as sources of support, institutions as sites of challenge and opportunity, and institutions as prisons. Finally, the chapter reviews some key arguments in the decentralisation debate: the interaction between representative democracy and participative approaches, the capacity of place-based activity to reflect diversity, and the impact of small-scale deliberation on wider political engagement.

Keywords:   neighbourhood bodies, public policy, UK, New Labour, decentralisation, Sure Start, institutions, support, opportunity, prisons

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