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Work in Progress seminar - Paradoxes of Participation and Dilemmas of Deliberation

Date: 30 May 2006 Time: 13.00-14.00

Speaker: Noel Cass (Lancaster University Geography Department)

Venue Furness Lecture Theatre 3

Full Title: Paradoxes of Participation and Dilemmas of Deliberation: a review of the strategic 'uses' of

participation and its inherent tensions

This paper has emerged from a literature review undertaken as part of a multi-disciplinary investigation of public engagement with renewable energy technologies, and offers a theoretical reflection on the paradoxes and dilemmas inherent in participatory and deliberative engagement. In it, the author also reflects on experiences gained whilst facilitating public engagement undertaken during two different projects related to radioactive waste management in the UK[1]. These reflections are not meant to be taken as an empirical evaluation of these engagement processes, rather the empirical experiences are used to flesh out the theoretical discussions. It is hoped that this form of exploration will fill a perceived lacuna in the literature on engagement, in which more abstract work (e.g. Fiorino, 1990; O'Neill, 2001; Owens et al., 2004) have identified key themes, issues and tensions, whilst remaining at the level of theory, and empirical studies of particular engagement processes have tended to focus on evaluation or assessment of the processes whilst taking for granted some of the foundational assumptions of those involved in engagement work. It is the intention of this paper to take stock of the status and role of 'participation' in the contemporary policy world as a near-hegemonic discourse with almost universal support that has recently been exposed to numerous critiques and nevertheless persists as a legitimate (sometimes obligatory) and legitimating factor in the process of producing policy.

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Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences
Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences
Lancaster University
Lancaster LA1 4YD
United Kingdom

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