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People & Participation: How to Put Citizens at the Heart of Decision-making

This 116-page guide (2005) was developed for public bodies such as local authorities, government departments or other statutory agencies who commission or deliver participatory processes; those with similar roles in the voluntary and private sectors; and people who want to know what to expect when they get involved in decision-making processes. This document is the first publication from UK-based Involve. It is based on research funded by the Home Office Civil Renewal Unit during 2004-05. Involve aims to create new systems that enable people to influence decisions and get involved in actions that affect their lives.

There have been many books and pamphlets about democratic reform. What is unusual about this publication is that it provides much needed practical detail, drawing on the experiences of many hundreds of practitioners who have used new methods to involve the public in issues ranging from local planning to nanotechnology. Its starting point is that deepening and strengthening democracy depends on success in learning lessons about why some kinds of participation lead to better and more legitimate decisions, while others do not.

The book shows that greater public involvement can greatly help in addressing some of our most pressing problems, and countering the risks of distrust and alienation. But it also warns that too much participation today is superficial, an exercise in ticking boxes as opposed to good democratic governance, or using public consultation to justify decisions that have already been made.

To their credit, hundreds of public agencies have taken the lead in trying to involve the public more actively. The priority now is to build on that experience and to build confidence that public involvement can lead to better, and more legitimate, decisions.

The following methods are covered in detail in this publication:

  • Appreciative Inquiry
  • Citizens’ Juries
  • Citizens’ Panels
  • Community Empowerment Networks
  • Consensus Building/Dialogue
  • Consensus Conference
  • Deliberative Mapping
  • Deliberative Polling
  • Democs
  • Electronic processes
  • Future Search Conference
  • Participatory Appraisal
  • Participatory Strategic Planning (ICA)
  • Planning for Real
  • Open Space Technology
  • User Panels
  • Youth Empowerment Initiatives

Hard copies cost £20 + £2.50 p&p. If you would like to order one email publications@involve.org.uk. Go to www.involve.org.uk for more publications from Involve.

Resource Link: www.ncdd.org/exchange/files/docs/People_Participation.pdf

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