How best to open up local democracy? A randomised experiment to encourage contested elections and greater representativeness in English parish councils

Matt Ryan, Gerry Stoker, Peter John, Alice Moseley, Oliver James, Liz Richardson, Matia Vannoni

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Interventions aimed at increasing the supply and representativeness of elected officials range from facilitative to the formally authorised. This paper reports on a field experiment aimed at testing the effect of facilitative approaches at the local level based on a collaboration between parish councils and the research team. We randomly allocated 818 parish council clerks across five counties in Southern England, either to receive information and the opportunity for member training for recruitment, or not to receive this contact. We investigated the effect of this intervention on political recruitment. Despite evidence of an effect on use of social media, our results suggest that there are significant institutional and structural barriers to participation in local politics that cannot easily be overcome using facilitative measures.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)766-787
Number of pages22
JournalLocal Government Studies
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2 Nov 2018


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