Stakeholder Consultation as Social Mobilization: Framing Scottish Mental Health Policy

Steven Sturdy, Jennifer Smith-Merry, Richard Freeman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Public and stakeholder consultation is increasingly important in the policy process, both in the UK and elsewhere. Social scientists have considered consultation primarily in terms of how it relates to decision-making – either as a means of involving a wider constituency of actors in the decision-making process, or as a means of legitimising the decisions taken by policy makers. This paper shows that consultation can also serve a rather different role in relation to policy: as in effect the first stage in policy implementation. Based on direct observation of a stakeholder consultation on Scottish mental health policy that took place during late 2007 and early 2008, it draws on elements of social movement theory to show how that consultation served as a means of enrolling, orienting and mobilising stakeholders to implement a largely pre-existing set of policy aims.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)823-844
JournalSocial Policy and Administration
Issue number7
Early online date17 Apr 2012
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2012


  • consultation
  • policy
  • implementation
  • social movement theory
  • mental health
  • Scotland


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