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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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Struggling: discussing the substantive issues at hand

Struggling: discussing the substantive issues at hand

(p.141) Six Struggling: discussing the substantive issues at hand
Communicative Capacity

Koen P.R. Bartels

Policy Press

This chapter looks at the ways in which public professionals and citizens talk about the substantive issues at hand. Discussing substantive issues is a continuous ‘struggling’ with taking on-board unknown knowledge about rules, structures, and policies, and acknowledging the feelings, beliefs, and experiences of others. Struggling is all but a matter of neutral and straightforward knowledge exchange: it is a continuous process of getting recognition to take part in conversations and learning to translate their content in meaningful ways. Merely facilitating public professionals and citizens to discuss substantive issues is not enough to get them to integrate their ‘actionable understandings’; truly ‘unifying differences’ comes down to a subtle activity of recognising, empathising, and appreciating what is being communicated. Public professionals and citizens will not manage to overcome their habitual pattern if they lack the capacity to communicate about their struggling with the beliefs, perceptions, and feelings inherent to their actionable understandings.

Keywords:   substantive issues, actionable understandings, unifying differences, knowledge exchange

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