Institutionalising Public Deliberation in Public Policy Agenda Setting: The Case of the Sustainable Communities Act (2007)

Bua, Adrian (2014) Institutionalising Public Deliberation in Public Policy Agenda Setting: The Case of the Sustainable Communities Act (2007). Doctoral thesis, University of East Anglia.

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Abstract

The thesis argues that responsive governance can be achieved through institutions that increase civic influence upon policy agendas. Participatory-deliberative processes (PDPs) are understood to offer mechanisms for democratic responsiveness. However, the ways in the outcomes of (PDPs) can be linked to policy making has received little attention, especially at higher governance tiers. The thesis analyses a PDP set up to influence central government policy agendas in the UK; the Sustainable Communities Act (SCA) (2007).The SCA was selected for its analytically relevant features. It differs from other PDPs for a combination of three reasons: (a) it was specifically designed to allow citizens to identify policy problems, develop policy proposals and influence agendas; (b) it operated across governance levels, connecting local participation to national policy development; and (c) it institutionalised a link to the policy process. The thesis aims to evaluate the processes through which proposals were developed and integrated within policy development, with a view to assessing impacts upon ambitions for more responsive governance.
The analysis finds achievements such as the importance of reflexive agenda setting processes that allow participants to explore and (re)define problems, as well as the realisation of a form of responsiveness characterised by a deliberative, rather than a causal, relation between input and output. However, modest achievements are marred by important problems. First, proposal development processes were prone to ‘capture’ by the political priorities of local authorities and interest group representatives. In this respect, the analysis concludes that the SCA often resembled a ‘lobbying tool’ for local elites. Second, when it came to integrating proposals within policy development, SCA proposals were subsumed by the policy development, electoral and legislative cycles of representative institutions. Such constraints are real, but not absolute, and can be mitigated through institutional design. The thesis ends by making recommendations to this end.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Faculty \ School: Faculty of Arts and Humanities > School of Political, Social and International Studies
Depositing User: Deborah Goodwin
Date Deposited: 29 Jul 2014 11:44
Last Modified: 29 Jul 2014 11:44
URI: https://ueaeprints.uea.ac.uk/id/eprint/49841
DOI:

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