The start of the guide is a
mixture of theory and practice which signposts readers to
topics and methods for participation in
the A-Z. It
doesn't read like a step-by-step manual or cookbook for
- Every situation is
different, and while there are some common guidelines and
pitfalls, you have to work out your own menu and which
recipes are appropriate.
- Effective and successful
participation is about style and approach as much as
- Different methods suit
The main theoretical ideas
are summarised under 10
key ideas for participation.
- I have adapted Sherry
Arnstein's idea of a ladder of participation in which the
rungs are different levels of participation that
authorities may allow to citizens. Are people being
manipulated, or offered some control over their
- Perhaps the most
important issues then are who's who - and who decides.
Who controls the money, the design of projects, how
services are run? What are the different interests in the
community? And who decides their levels on the ladder?
These are the stakeholders.
- This guide is written
mainly for people - here termed practitioners - who have
to make those decisions and work with the different
- This participation
process takes place over time, and four main phases are
identified: initiation, preparation, participation,
- Different interests may
seek different levels of participation, and be involved
at different phases of participation.
- The commitment - or
apathy - of different interests will depend mainly on the
ownership they have of any ideas, and the involvement
they are offered in putting ideas into
This theory is developed in
more detail in later sections:
Framework for participation
brings together the ideas about levels, phases and
do you stand?
develops each of the levels in more detail, with
guidelines on when each may be most appropriate, and the
methods you might use.
takes time explores
the phases of the process from initiation through to
continuation, and places strong emphasis on the need for
preparation before you start participation proper.
from theory to practice identifies
some common issues and questions which keep cropping up in
participation processes, and uses them to provide some
signposts to topics and techniques in the A-Z
section. Signposts is the most complex of the sections,
and is included so that you see the ideas which underlie the
The first practical section
Answers - comes
directly after the Key
Ideas to provide
some light relief and a flavour of the difficulties that
off-the-shelf recipes can produce. Later there are two
sections which offer practical suggestions:
on how to...
provides some overall guidelines for participation, then
deals with the main tasks in the participation process from
the point of view of someone planning and managing the
section is a mix of
topics and methods which aims to provide a pool of ideas and
practical advice to supply more detail for the theory and
Using the guide
The guide is not designed to
be read through from front to back - you should be able to
dip in to it and find cross-references to other sections
which will lead you to areas of interest. There is
deliberately quite a lot of repetition to allow for this.
However, I suggest:
- Read the sections on
and the Framework
before tackling any of the practical detailed
- Use Easy
Answers as a
way to find some pointers to key practical issues in the
- Only try and use the
on how to ...
section when you feel familiar with most of the rest of