Involve’s People and Participation guide focuses on democratic reform and provides much needed practical detail, drawing on the experiences of over one hundred practitioners who have used new methods to involve the public in issues ranging from local planning to nanotechnology. It analyses why some kinds of participation lead to better and more legitimate decisions, while others do not.
The guide shows that greater public involvement can greatly help in addressing some of society’s 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 is used to justify decisions that have already been made. Thus, it aims to set participant expectations for participatory decision-making processes to help them hold process designers and commissioners to account.
The guide first discusses what participation is and why it should be done (when necessary), as well as some issues and tensions that may arise. It then details how to plan for participation and describes a selected set of participation methods. Specific information is provided for each method, including participant numbers and roles, resource and time requirements, expected outcomes, strengths and weaknesses, and in which situations the method will be most effective. Illustrative examples are also provided for each method.