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Marginalised or Enabled Voices? ‘User Participation’ in Policy and Practice

  • Catherine Bochel (a1), Hugh Bochel (a1), Peter Somerville (a1) and Claire Worley (a2)

The idea of participation has been central to many policy developments in recent years. Both Conservative and Labour governments have used notions of participation and involvement in attempts to justify and implement their social policies. Yet, despite a plethora of initiatives and guidance around ‘participation’ emerging from all levels of government, and a substantial academic literature, there remains a major, and potentially damaging, lack of clarity over many aspects of participation, while the secret of achieving ‘real’ participation appears to continue to remain elusive.

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M. Barnes , A. Davis and H. Rogers (2006), ‘Women's voices, women's choices: experiences and creativity in consulting women users of mental health services’, Journal of Mental Health, 15, 3, 329341.

M. Barnes , A. Knops , J. Newman and H. Sullivan (2004), ‘Recent research: the micro-politics of deliberation: case studies in public participation’, Contemporary Politics, 10, 2, 93110.

C. Bochel (2006), ‘New Labour: participation and the policy process’, Public Policy and Administration, 21, 4, 1022.

S. Carr (2007), ‘Participation, power, conflict and change: theorizing dynamics of service user participation in the social care system of England and Wales’, Critical Social Policy, 27, 2, 266276.

M. Geddes (2006), ‘Partnership and the limits to local governance in England: institutionalist analysis and neoliberalism’, International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, 30, 1, 7697.

U. Gustafsson and S. Driver (2005), ‘Parents, power and public participation: sure start, an experiment in New Labour governance’, Social Policy and Administration, 39, 5, 528543.

G. Hague (2005), ‘Domestic violence survivors' forums in the UK: experiments in involving abused women in domestic violence services and policy-making’, Journal of Gender Studies, 14, 3, 191203.

I. Harbers (2007), ‘Democratic deepening in Third Wave democracies: experiments with participation in Mexico City’, Political Studies, 55, 1, 3858.

W. Hiebert and D. Swan (1999), ‘Positively fit: a case study in community development and the role of participatory action research’, Community Development Journal, 34, 4, 356364.

J. Howard and D. Sweeting (2007) ‘Neighbourhoods, democracy and citizenship’, in I. Smith , E. Lepine and M. Taylor (eds), Disadvantaged By Where You Live? Neighbourhood Governance and Urban Policy, Bristol: The Policy Press, pp. 105124.

J. Wright , J. Parry , J. Mathers , S. Jones and J. Orford (2007), ‘Assessing the participatory potential of Britain's New Deal for Communities’, Policy Studies, 27, 4, 347361.

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Social Policy and Society
  • ISSN: 1474-7464
  • EISSN: 1475-3073
  • URL: /core/journals/social-policy-and-society
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