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Communicative CapacityPublic Encounters in Participatory Theory and Practice$
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Koen P.R. Bartels

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9781447318507

Published to Policy Press Scholarship Online: May 2016

DOI: 10.1332/policypress/9781447318507.001.0001

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Public encounters in participatory democracy: towards communicative capacity

Public encounters in participatory democracy: towards communicative capacity

(p.17) Two Public encounters in participatory democracy: towards communicative capacity
Communicative Capacity

Koen P.R. Bartels

Policy Press

This chapter reviews the theoretical debate on participatory democracy and develops a focus on public encounters. This leads to an explanation of the theory and practice of communicative capacity and how this framework is used to analyse the case studies. The theoretical review reveals that public encounters did not feature in the work of the first advocates of participatory democracy, but evolved into an important medium for putting it into practice. However, public encounters have mainly been considered within a framework of democratic political theory, primarily within the deliberative democracy literature. Existing studies of communicative practices are of limited help in appreciating and understanding how participatory encounters generate new types of practices. The work of Mary Follett provides a framework for understanding public encounters on their own terms. Such integrative encounters will not necessarily happen organically; citizens and public professionals need to communicatively enact the quality of their encounters in a shared, evolving practice. The theory of communicative capacity provides a theoretical and practical framework for doing so.

Keywords:   participatory democracy, democratic political theory, public encounters, deliberative democracy, communication, Mary Follett, communicative capacity

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