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Continuity and change

4 Political participation: continuity and change Not only is it the case that the vast majority of citizens are at best ­marginally engaged in civic or political activism, it is also far from clear how even a broader base of participation beyond elections and political parties could help address the decline of representative democracy. Wilks-Heeg, Blick and Crone, 2012 The changing patterns of political participation and support Political participation is part of a dynamic process of exchange between the citizen and the state. In Britain and Australia, as in

in The search for democratic renewal

3 Understanding political participation The democratic impulse needs to be strengthened by finding new ways to enable citizens to share in decision-making that affects them. For too long a false antithesis has been presented between ‘representative’ and ‘direct’ democracy. The truth is that in a mature society representatives will make better decisions if they take full account of popular opinion and encourage public debate on the big decisions affecting people’s lives. Tony Blair, 1998 The trouble with Socialism is that it takes too many evenings. Attributed

in The search for democratic renewal
Debates and evidence

2 Civic engagement and political participation: debates and evidence Introduction There is a widespread view that democracy at the local level in Britain is in crisis with levels of political participation at an all-time low. Indeed, there is an increasing ‘anti-politics’ narrative that posits a public alienated from the political class. The public uproar in 2009 over the ‘excessive’ allowances claimed by some members of parliament (MPs) has fed into this. However, the central argument of this chapter, and indeed of the book itself, is that a deeper and more

in Local democracy, civic engagement and community

. There has been some improvement in female political participation in Northern Ireland since the GFA, with the number of women representatives increasing from election to election; but the pace of change is slow and much more remains to be achieved before the body politic can be described as fair and representative. Of course, there are many countries in which women – especially in their

in Everyday life after the Irish conflict
The politics of consultation in Britain and Australia

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.

The impact of devolution and cross-border cooperation

This book examines how the conflict affects people's daily behaviour in reinforcing sectarian or ghettoised notions and norms. It also examines whether and to what extent everyday life became normalised in the decade after the 1998 Good Friday Agreement (GFA). Cross-border commerce has been the stuff of everyday life ever since the partition of Ireland back in 1921. The book outlines how sectarianism and segregation are sustained and extended through the routine and mundane decisions that people make in their everyday lives. It explores the role of integrated education in breaking down residual sectarianism in Northern Ireland. The book examines the potential of the non-statutory Shared Education Programme (SEP) for fostering greater and more meaningful contact between pupils across the ethno-religious divide. It then focuses on women's involvement or women's marginalisation in society and politics. In considering women's political participation post-devolution, mention should be made of activities in the women's sector which created momentum for women's participation prior to the GFA. The book deals with the roles of those outside formal politics who engage in peace-making and everyday politics. It explores the fate of the Northern Irish Civic Forum and the role of section 75 of the 1998 Northern Ireland Act in creating more inclusive policy-making. Finally, the book explains how cross-border trade, shopping and economic development more generally, also employment and access to health services, affect how people navigate ethno-national differences; and how people cope with and seek to move beyond working-class isolation and social segregation.

From New Labour to the Big Society

There is a widespread view that local democracy in Britain is in deep trouble and that people face a crisis of civic engagement and political participation. This book counterweighs the many negative accounts that seek to dominate the political discourse with talks on political apathy and selfish individualism. It commences with an examination of theoretical debates as to the meaning of local democracy and related concepts. The book looks at the policy agenda around local democracy in the context of the developing nature of central/local relations since 1979. It considers the available evidence on level of political participation and civic engagement by looking at eight themes. These include the state of formal politics, forms of civic engagement, community identity and the emerging world of the internet/world wide web. The book also looks at nine key aspects of the reform of local democracy over the last fifteen years, including local democracy and the New Labour reform agenda; the constitutional position of local government; and double devolution. It focuses on the so-called 'crisis of formal democracy' at the local level. The book ascertains the recent developments beyond the realm of elections, political parties and formal political institutions. It then concentrates on local services and policy attempts to widen public participation in the shaping and delivery of such services. Finally, the book discusses the concept of sustainability and regeneration strategies to build sustainable communities, both physical and social.

New dimensions, new challenges

Immigration is relatively new in Spain, and hence government policies are struggling to manage the diversity it entails. This book examines the social conditions and political questions surrounding Spanish diversity, and gives a comprehensive view on how Spain is orienting its diversity management following a practical approach. It also examines specific immigrant nationalities, current institutional practices and normative challenges on how Spain is managing diversity. The mosque debate and the effects of the Danish Cartoon Affair on the traditional moros and cristianos festivals are explored. The book addresses the context of educational challenges related to immigration, and the policy approaches to the management of immigration-related diversity in education. It discusses policies and practices to combat discrimination in the labour market, with special reference to the transposition and implementation of the EU anti-discrimination directives. The book looks at political participation and representation of immigrants by describing the public debate on voting rights, the legal framework and the various debates about the possibilities for granting immigrants voting rights. This is done through an analysis of the Foro para la Integracion de los Inmigrantes (FII), and the main characteristics of the management of immigrant associations by the City Councils of Madrid and Barcelona. The book concludes that Spain is a laboratory for diversities, with a 'practical philosophy' of diversity management within a complex identitarian, historical and structural context that limits policy innovation and institutional change.

In 1980–81, anti-police collective violence spread across England. This was the earliest confrontation between the state and members of the British public during Thatcher’s divisive government. This powerful and original book locates these disturbances within a longer struggle against racism and disadvantage faced by black Britons, which had seen a growth in more militant forms of resistance since the Second World War. In this first full-length historical study of 1980–81, three case studies – of Bristol, Brixton and Manchester – emphasise the importance of local factors and the wider situation, concluding that these events should be viewed as ‘collective bargaining by riot’ – as a tool attempting increased political inclusion for marginalised black Britons. Focusing on the political activities of black Britons themselves, it explores the actions of community organisations in the aftermath of disorders to highlight dichotomous valuations of state mechanisms. A key focus is public inquiries, which were contrastingly viewed by black Britons as either a governmental diversionary tactic, or a method of legitimising their inclusion with the British constitutional system. Through study of a wide range of newly available archives, interviews, understudied local sources and records of grassroots black political organisations, this work expands understandings of protest movements and community activism in modern democracies while highlighting the often-problematic reliance upon ‘official’ sources when forming historical narratives. Of interest to researchers of race, ethnicity and migration history, as well as modern British political and social history more generally, its interdisciplinary nature will also appeal to wider fields, including sociology, political sciences and criminology.

, civic engagement and community In addition, there is a significant amount of activity and civic engagement beyond the formal realm of politics taking place at the local level. The challenge at the local level is to harness this energy to help drive forward and strengthen formal politics and broader forms of civic engagement in a relationship of mutual benefit and reciprocity. In the debate about the state of local democracy, words and phrases such as civic engagement, political participation and community enter the debate, often without a clear understanding of what

in Local democracy, civic engagement and community