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The politics of consultation in Britain and Australia
Author: Rob Manwaring

This book attempts to understand how two sister centre-left parties, the British Labour Party and the Australian Labor Party (ALP), have sought to adapt to the modern era and effect changes. It identifies and examines a range of drivers for Labour's desire to experiment and find new forms of citizen engagement. Linked to the influence of the New Social Democracy (NSD) is the lingering legacy of the new public management (NPM) reforms implemented in the public sectors in both countries. For Labour, democratic renewal is an attempt to secure wider legitimacy in neoliberal settings; similarly, the NSD is also linked to the debates about the perceived shift from government to governance. The NSD has attempted to respond to these debates and in Britain a concerted effort has been made to reformulate the role of the state and, by extension, civil society. The book examines how far the NSD has influenced Labour governments in Britain and Australia. It establishes Labour's interest in democratic renewal, specifically, the role of political participation and civic engagement in the wider context of democratic theory. Given that the NSD calls for an 'active citizenry', this is important. A central motif of democratic theory is an ambivalence about the role of political participation in a modern liberal democratic polity. The book explores how far New Social Democratic governments in Britain and Australia have been successful in seeking to link new forms of public dialogue to existing democratic decision-making processes in the modern western world.

John Street, Sanna Inthorn, and Martin Scott

– most obviously, print and television news. A growing body of research has helped to sustain the belief that these genres have an important role to play in democratic culture (e.g. Scheufele 2002; Prior 2005). Our own research is a response to our dissatisfaction with this pattern of research in which popular culture is condemned, and only news and current affairs condoned. For us, the problem lies in conception of politics and civic engagement that fails to encompass the contribution that popular culture can make to democracy and citizen engagement. We suggest that

in From entertainment to citizenship
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Creating collective identities
John Street, Sanna Inthorn, and Martin Scott

our respondents felt was ‘for them’. Central to our approach in this book is the argument that citizen engagement requires a connection with communities of interest. It is a precondition from which civic action follows. In this chapter we explore the potential of popular culture to create or represent the social ties that are an important dimension of citizen engagement. We suggest that, for our respondents, the potential to connect with others is one of the pleasures of popular culture. This connection was valued for the social interaction it offered, but it was

in From entertainment to citizenship
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John Street, Sanna Inthorn, and Martin Scott

four sets of academic and non-academic users: researchers with an interest in the role of popular culture for citizen engagement, schools, politicians, and the producers of popular culture. We begin with the academic community. Researching popular culture Our contribution to existing research on popular culture and citizenship is threefold. Firstly, to understand the ways in which young people engage with politics, popular culture needs to be taken seriously as an object of study. Much has been said and continues to be said about the role news media can play in

in From entertainment to citizenship
John Street, Sanna Inthorn, and Martin Scott

‘connectedness’ (Couldry et al., 2010). Indeed, they are precisely those that traditional approaches to citizenship and citizen engagement might deem as problematic. Young people who want to wind down and relax seem to say that there are moments when they do not want to stay alert to the injustices of the world and what to do about them. It seemed that our respondents might cherish moments of dis-connectedness. People have different motivations for using popular culture (Blumler and Katz 1974) and other studies have noted how such motivations include time consumption

in From entertainment to citizenship
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Quo vadis democracy?
Matt Qvortrup

a petition and being involved in communal activities. If measured by the yardstick of those activities, the level of political engagement is not as low as is sometimes assumed. Contrary to the often negative assessments of the state of citizen engagement, chapter 3 of this book has shown that citizens have not become apathetic and that young people reportedly are more interested in politics as their elders. That said, there are indications that traditional political engagement has declined and that the political system needs to allow for different forms of

in The politics of participation
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Rob Manwaring

Labour’s efforts in relation to these aspects of democratic renewal have received wider attention, this book examines the parties’ attempts to implement new forms of consultation and citizen engagement. Labour governments in both Britain and Australia have sought to create new ‘dialogic’ spaces for citizens and experts, the aim being to inform governance processes and decision-making. While some of these experiments have been critiqued, this book offers a systematic and comparative assessment of attempts to introduce innovative forms of consultation and citizen

in The search for democratic renewal
Matt Qvortrup

of the word, but were rather subjects of more or less despotic leaders and rulers. While this book is concerned mainly with positive – as opposed to normative – issues (with is rather than with ought), it is important to stress that philosophers and political thinkers have been divided as to the merits of letting the people involve themselves in the political process. To understand the empirical questions regarding the politics of participation we need to understand also the theoretical and philosophical questions pertaining to citizen engagement in the process of

in The politics of participation
An agenda for change?
Hugh Atkinson

of the Labour government being both contradictory and uncertain at times. Yet the mood music, notwithstanding the occasional discordant note, was softer in tone. There was, it appeared, the potential for a more vibrant local politics. In this context, the chapter focuses on nine key aspects of the reform of local democracy over the last fifteen years: local democracy and the New Labour reform agenda; the constitutional position of local government; double devolution; the citizen engagement, neighbourhood and empowerment agenda; civic engagement, neighbourhood

in Local democracy, civic engagement and community
Matt Qvortrup

M801 QVORTRUP TEXT MAKE-UP.qxd 5/4/07 1:42 PM Page 41 Gary Gary's G4:Users:Gary:Public:Gary Part II Empirical foundations of citizen politics Having outlined the theoretical aspects of studying politics and the history of the philosophical thinking on the subject I turn now to the empirical study of citizen politics. I do so by dividing citizen engagement into two distinct categories: • activities involving voting; and • other civic/political activities. In both cases what we seek to discern are the factors that determine political engagement and activity

in The politics of participation