On embedding participatory governance: A new symposium of Critical Policy Studies

Embeddedness is often invoked as a goal for participatory governance, but it tends to remain vaguely defined. So what does embedding participation mean? And how is it achieved? Sonia Bussu, Adrian Bua, Graham Smith and I convened this symposium in Critical Policy Studies in order to explore these questions through case studies from around the world.

The symposium contains five articles that combine theoretical work, to understand alternative conceptualisations and dynamics of embedding and institutionalisation, with three in-depth empirical case studies in Scotland, Barcelona and Brazil.

A very quick overview

In our introduction, Sonia Bussu, Adrian Bua, Graham Smith and I try to address the lack of clarity around what embeddedness means by defining a concept of embeddedness. We outline its spatial, temporal and practice dimensions and how conceptualising this goes beyond common understandings of the similar concept of institutionalisation.

In the second article, Oliver Escobar explores how public officials have managed the tension between radical aspirations and pragamatic challenges in their attempts to embed participatory governance in Scotland.

Dimitri Courant then develops a typology for understanding the institutionalisation of deliberative mini-publics, outlining four types that he calls: tamed consultation, radical democracy, representative klerocracy and hybrid polyarchy.

Why do political parties introduce participatory governance? Carla Bezerra demonstrates the complex combination of pragmatic and ideological motivations that drove PT’s participatory reforms in Brazil in her article.

In the final article, Ismael Blanco, Vivien Lowndes and Yuni Salazar explore the dynamics of institutionalising participation in Barcelona, showing the ways that rules, practices and narratives combine or disalign to produce stability and change.

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