Welcome to our first virtual issue of 2021 and to a new year of reflecting on some of the latest thinking on the major policy questions of our time including the growing importance of digital democracy and on-line public service delivery, the decline of public trust in conventional politics, and the potential of citizen participation to reconnect electorates with political and policymaking processes.
Given that on-line working has become so pervasive and so important during the coronavirus pandemic, we start this virtual issue with a collection of papers that explores the role of digitalisation in promoting public participation and delivering public services. Read on as we journey from analyses of these innovative examples of digitalisation, stopping off at some familiar but important themes for regular readers of the journal including direct democracy, political leadership, and new insights into citizen participation. Continue reading →
E-petitions have become extremely popular over the last decade. They circulate freely and quickly, with most people at some point having signed one. But there is a perennial question associated with them: what’s the point of e-petitions, do they achieve anything? In my recent Policy & Politics article, I approach this issue by exploring the different roles petitions can play, focusing on petitions to parliament. I show that petitions systems perform roles beyond enabling participation and policy change, depending on the types of processes in place to evaluate them. I demonstrate that the processes through which petitions are considered are crucial in shaping the role(s) they perform. Continue reading →
Lisa Schmidthuber, Dennis Hilgers and Maximilian Rapp
Public sector institutions increasingly make use of modern information and communication technology to exchange knowledge with stakeholders and involve external actors in decision-making. Public participation has the potential to increase the knowledge base relevant for innovation and continuous improvement in policy-making. It can alsoenhance the relationship among actors, increase public trust and improve citizen satisfaction. Our recentarticlein Policy & Politicsfocuses on public participation in party politics. Specifically, our research focused on a political party whichinvolved citizens in the development of its programme using an online platform. Continue reading →
Pau Alarcón, Carol Galais, Joan Font and Graham Smith
The economic crisis has led to challenges across a whole host of policy areas. But what has been its effect on citizen participation in political decision making?
When we think about the pros and cons of citizen involvement in political decision-making, questions arise about competence and motivation. On the one hand, there is the question of the competence of citizens in making well-considered decisions. On the other hand, will politicians implement or ignore citizens’ proposals?Continue reading →
Whatever your view on public participation, our new virtual collection brings you our most recent research on the topic from a range of different perspectives, all of which aim to enhance our understanding of its importance. Opening the collection is one of our most innovative articles that seeks to address the gap between evidence and policy on how population health outcomes are determined by health discourses. To explore understandings of the cause of ill health in two deindustrialised areas of Scotland, interviews with participants produced vivid articulations of the links between politics, policies, deindustrialisation, damage to community fabric and impacts on health, hence the title: Working-class discourses of politics, policy and health: ‘I don’t smoke; I don’t drink. The only thing wrong with me is my health’.
In this excellent article, the authors seek to make sense of the complex nature of deliberation and the complexity of deliberative democratic systems. In doing so, they bring together two hitherto separate strands of literature – the empirical turn and the systemtic turn – which have previously ‘pulled in different directions.’ In seeking to bring the two turns together, the authors highlight a number of important methodological questions. They ask: ‘how can we identify and portray the sites, agents and discursive elements that comprise a deliberative system, how can we study connections and transmissions across different sites of a deliberative system, and how can we understand the impact of the broader socio- political context on both specific deliberative sites and the entire deliberative system?’ Continue reading →
Imagine you are a civil servant. You have just convinced your somewhat skeptical colleagues that your new policy initiative should incorporate extensive public participation in its design process. You now have some tough choices to make: who is going to participate in the process, for example? You know that if you keep participation open to all, then the process will be criticized within your department for just involving the usual suspects. But if you restrict participation, to a randomly selected group for instance, then you know there are some influential policy NGOs who will be vocal about their exclusion.
Or imagine you are a citizen who has decided to get involved in a participatory governance initiative. You were told this initiative was going to give you an opportunity to hold policy-makers to account. But, now you’re taking part you realize it is more about working collaboratively to input your ‘experiential expertise’ into the process. You also have some choices to make. Do you try to rattle the cage from the inside, or comply with the rules of the game and play nice? Or do you simply stop participating at all? Continue reading →
Policy & Politics, Volume 43, issue 1, is now available in print and online. David Sweeting introduces the issue.
The latest issue of Policy & Politics showcases some of the most creative and innovative work that is going on in the field, covering a variety of topics. As ever, the contributions combine theoretical insight with empirical analysis, and offer a wide geographical spread. The issue also contains our first ‘research provocation’ piece.
Public participation in policy decisions has undoubtedly improved in recent years, yet the system is still far from perfect. Formal or “top-down” mechanisms continue to serve as a starting point, but how they interact with or are complemented by informal or “bottom-up” alternatives is to this day something of a lottery. My latest research, examining the proposed High-Speed 2 (HS2) rail link between London Continue reading →