Thumbnail for The relational state and open policy

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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Written by Anthony Zacharzewski

Anthony Zacharzewski was one of the founders of Demsoc in 2006. Before starting work for Demsoc in 2010, he was a Whitehall civil servant and a local government officer.

This article has 1 comments

  1. Ary

    What a breath of fresh air! It seems to me that on the one hand, UK culrtue promotes anti-intellectualism, yet as soon as individuals value something other than academic attainment as the pinnacle of achievment, they are ‘demoted’ as ‘non-academics’’. I have been looking at Democratic Education models for secondary education in the UK, but it seems that whilst many of them offer really interesting education syllabuses, only those who can afford private-school fees can benefit from such an approach. The only school I can find that gets close to accessible democratic education in the UK is the Small School in Hartland, Devon (they still charge, but the cost is about a3300 per term, which seems to be around 10% of the cost of most private schools offering democratic/alternative education with any kind of a creative, passionate ethos). Yet they receive no funding from the state, and are increasingly less interesting to trust funders as they have been around too long to be considered ‘innovative’. This lack of support has had a direct impact on quality of facilities and ability to measure success in line with Ofsted. How are alternative models of education supposed to compete with standard education in the UK if they are not provided with equal resources to do so? I am hoping that the free schools initiative will indeed allow for some of more schools with integrated, expansive education’ to emerge, but I’m not holding my breath.