Democratising engagement

Democratising engagement

Engaging citizens in governance

Citizen engagement has become an essential part of modern government. Governments around the world are starting to realise that engaging their citizens more in shaping the decisions that affect their everyday lives improves legitimacy, as well as the quality of public services. This online pamphlet begins by looking at different ways of thinking about engaging citizens in governance. It traces some of the trajectories that have led to the current policy moment, contextualising shifts in policy in Britain in relation to the broader international debate.

The sections within the document look more closely at some of the preconditions for inclusive, meaningful citizen engagement through a series of case studies that reveal different dimensions of citizen (dis)engagement. Lessons from these case studies form the basis for the conclusion, which looks at what is needed to make real the democratising promise of citizen engagement in governance. The following suggestions are made:

  • make more of what’s known about facilitating participation
  • improve representation, especially of those who are least well represented  in existing institutions
  • bring social justice into the heart of governance
  • foster deliberation – not just consultation
  • invest in building the capacity to participate – for all involved
  • enable public servants to serve the public better
  • strengthen the legal framework.