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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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Conclusion: power, participation and political renewal

Conclusion: power, participation and political renewal

(p.183) Nine Conclusion: power, participation and political renewal
Power, participation and political renewal

Marian Barnes

Janet Newman

Helen Sullivan

Policy Press

This conclusion discusses the transformatory potential of public participation, and its capacity to contribute to a process of political renewal. It argues that the aspirations highlighted may need to be tempered by an awareness of the institutional practices that constrain agency or produce a loss of trust. It emphasises the power of official discourses to define and delimit notions of ‘the public’ and of ‘legitimate participants’, and suggest ways in which such meanings are contested and negotiated. It examines how relationships and identities are shaped in the context of power inequalities, as well as the tensions present when those engaged in autonomous collective action are engaged in dialogue with public bodies. It also shows new insights into the dilemmas experienced by public service workers exposed to new encounters with the public. The case studies in this book highlight a set of issues and raises a series of questions that might productively be addressed in future policy and practice. It argues that public participation can help to equip people to become better at dialogue with others, enabling a greater understanding of different perspectives and a respect for others' positions.

Keywords:   public participation, official discourses, dialogue, public service workers, political renewal, power

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