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The chapters by Tess Lanning and Geoff Mulgan in this new IPPR collection are relevant to how public involvement in Government could change. Here’s a snippet:

All of these experiments [in public participation in policy] are attempts to embody the broader shift of government from standing over people, through providing things to people, to working with the people. Not all have worked perfectly or as expected. There is so far little evidence on their efficacy. But they are rapidly providing lessons as to how government can change the nature of its relationship with citizens.

In all of these cases, the process of decision-making can be as important as the outcome, with a high premium put on methods that allow large numbers of people to feel that they have had a say. […] There is extensive evidence on how public engagement can evolve. One thesis is that there is a roughly U-shaped pattern: where there is very little expectation of engagement, an equilibrium can be achieved. But introducing small amounts of information and engagement may reduce public confidence and trust in the short run. It can prompt unrealistic demands. If there are doubts about the integrity of these processes these will become apparent. Consultation may be, and may be seen to be, cosmetic.

Read the rest.

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The relational democratic state

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