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Pathways to Participation

Pathways to Participation is a 2011 report from the UK that explores why and how people participate in their society.

Tim Hughes, one of the report researchers, pointed out in an email to NCDD member Susanna Haas Lyons a critical finding for public engagement efforts: too often public consultation changes nothing for citizens but a decreased willingness to continue to be engaged. The reason for this is two-fold, he said. One, the engagement exercises are seen as tokenistic, and participants believe that nothing will really change as a result. Two, people are invited to react to changes already proposed, instead of asking people to be a part of creating something for their community.

This sends a clear message to those of us who are interested in better public engagement in governance. It’s critical that people are being asked to participate in conversations that will lead to real impact, and this connection to action is repeatedly demonstrated in how the opportunity is framed, the engagement is run and the next steps are reported back to the public.

The Pathways research team held 101 in-depth interviews to understand how to encourage people to be more active citizens. Another interesting result is their findings on how participation starts and stops. Take a look at the report for how it starts, and its pathways through life, but here’s an image about how participation continues or ends.

Why participation continues stops

Pathways through Participation is a two-and-a-half year qualitative research project funded by the Big Lottery Fund and led by the National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO) in partnership with the Institute for Volunteering Research (IVR) and Involve.

Resource Link: http://pathwaysthroughparticipation.org.uk

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