Facilitators as culture change workers: Advancing public participation and deliberation in local governance

Claire Bynner*, Oliver Escobar, Sarah Weakley

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

Practitioners who facilitate public participation in governance operate at the interface of three policy agendas: public service reform, social justice and democratic innovation. Scotland offers a paradigmatic site for studying this interface through the role of officials who work as facilitators of public participation. Reforms in the last two decades have generated new spaces for engaging citizens and communities while challenging official facilitators to reconcile grassroots community action with institutional engagement. This article draws on empirical research from the What Works Scotland dataset (2014-2019), which is the first to examine the nature of this role across Scotland. Our analysis unpacks the tensions of interactive modes of governance and explores facilitators’ agency in responding to cultural practices that are resistant to change. The paper argues that official facilitators are more than process designers and discursive stewards; their work involves challenging and changing the cultural practices of the state at the frontline of democratic upheaval and renewal.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)738-758
JournalLocal Government Studies
Issue number4
Early online date4 Apr 2023
Publication statusPublished - 2023

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • facilitators
  • interactive governance
  • participatory democracy
  • citizen engagement
  • community planning
  • civil society
  • interest groups and participation
  • practitioners
  • comparative local government


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