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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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Making connections: building and maintaining relationships

Making connections: building and maintaining relationships

(p.173) Seven Making connections: building and maintaining relationships
Communicative Capacity

Koen P.R. Bartels

Policy Press

This chapter turns to how public professionals and citizens build and maintain their relationships by constantly ‘making connections’ between a great number of people, policies, and problems, while all potential connections to be made far exceed the possibilities for actually doing so. Building and maintaining relationships requires much more than a mutual commitment to empowerment. Of course, their encounters would be futile if public professionals and citizens would not recognise each other as valuable partners or would not be willing to invest in social bonding. However, making connections is far from straightforward, since public professionals and citizens enact ‘regimes of competence’ which stir up countless emotional and functional needs that motivate collaboration, while at the same time bringing about many tensions, barriers, and misunderstandings that frustrate their relationships. Therefore, they need the capacity to communicate about how to enact ‘cooperative styles of relating’: i.e., integrative ways for empowering each other to participate in discussions, take shared decisions, and act on problems together.

Keywords:   relationships, regimes of competence, cooperative styles of relating, empowerment

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