Trends in public participation: Part 2 - Citizens' perspectives

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210 Citations (Scopus)


The findings reported below are drawn from 30 focus group discussions carried out with citizens in 11 contrasting local authority areas. Particular attention was paid to recruiting citizens from traditionally excluded groups, including people from minority ethnic groups and from disadvantaged areas. Each focus group involved ten participants (each of whom received a small honorarium) and lasted around an hour and a half. There were four different types of focus groups: 'Participators' - those who had participated in a local authority initiative. 'Activists' - people from local community and voluntary organizations. Young people - from local colleges and youth groups. 'Ordinary citizens' - randomly selected by a market research agency. Half of the focus groups, therefore, concentrated upon individuals who had some knowledge of, or contact with, local government, while the other half addressed those who were largely detached from local politics. (For further details of the research methodology, including the topic guides employed, see Lowndes et al. 1998.) While not claiming to be in any way 'representative' of public opinion, the focus groups provided an opportunity for in-depth research into citizens' own accounts of their relationships with local government. This article presents our research findings (in the context of other relevant research) on why it is that citizens do participate, and why - more often - they do not.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)445-455
Number of pages11
JournalPublic Administration
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2001
Externally publishedYes


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