Lowndes_et_al-2001-Public_Administration - PUBLIC...

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PUBLIC MANAGEMENT TRENDS IN PUBLIC PARTICIPATION: PART 2 – CITIZENS’ PERSPECTIVES VIVIEN LOWNDES, LAWRENCE PRATCHETT AND GERRY STOKER INTRODUCTION British local authorities are employing an increasing number and range of public participation initiatives, in the context of New Labour’s ‘democratic renewal’ agenda and as the result of longer-term processes of innovation in local government. Central government is imposing new requirements upon local authorities to consult with the public – over ‘best value’ in ser- vice delivery, over securing community ‘wellbeing’, on new political man- agement arrangements, and as a criterion for ‘beacon’ status (DETR 1998, 1999). At the same time, leading local authorities are at the forefront of developing innovative methods of consultation and deliberation – inter- active websites, citizens’ juries and panels, visioning and community plan- ning (MAPIT 1999; Lowndes et al . 1998a; LGA 1998). Such methods of engaging the public are now spreading across the public sector and even to central government itself – through the ‘People’s Panel’, the ‘Foresight’ visioning programme, and the on-line ‘Democracy Forum’ (Cabinet Office 1999). A previous article in Public Management provided a unique mapping of local authority activity in relation to citizen participation (Lowndes, Pratch- ett and Stoker 2001). Based on survey and case study work with local auth- ority officers and members, the article documented the growth – and Vivien Lowndes is Professor of Local Government Studies and Lawrence Pratchett is Reader in Local Democracy in the Department of Public Policy, De Montfort University, Leicester. Gerry Stoker is Professor of Politics at the University of Manchester. Public Administration Vol. 79 No. 2, 2001 (445–455) Blackwell Publishers Ltd. 2001, 108 Cowley Road, Oxford OX4 1JF, UK and 350 Main Street, Malden, MA 02148, USA.
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446 VIVIEN LOWNDES, LAWRENCE PRATCHETT AND GERRY STOKER increasing diversity – of activity designed to enhance public participation. At the same time, the article showed that participation initiatives are not always well-supported by the public and often fail to influence final decision making. This article takes the debate further by probing the views of citizens themselves about the prospect and reality of public partici- pation – a perspective often neglected in research (although Seargeant and Steele’s 1999 work is a notable exception). Exploring citizens’ views is parti- cularly important in the context of the deep scepticism about participation that persists among many local politicians (see Lowndes et al . 1998a); it also helps us to move beyond the ‘motherhood and apple pie’ tone of much government policy and think-tank output. A better understanding of citi- zens’ attitudes and behaviour is necessary if practitioners are to address the very real problems of ‘apathy’ (and social exclusion) that bedevil partici- pation initiatives, and if they are to maximize the impact and cost- effectiveness of participation strategies.
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  • Winter '16
  • Mr M.M. Masuku
  • Government, Blackwell Publishers Ltd., VIVIEN LOWNDES, LAWRENCE PRATCHETT

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