The third source is some conclusions form the academic literature. Lawrence Pratchett in a paper for Parliamentary Affairs suggested that intermediate bodies such as the media and community groups might be the best route for public participation as local government is essentially a representative rather than participative institution. Similarly, Marion Barnes, Janet Newman and Helen Sullivan in their research into public participation, suggested that participation initiatives might be more successful when semi autonomous from government and run by voluntary groups.
The double doughnut of democracy is essentially a public engagement strategy for local government (or any government for that matter).
- Council officers
- Partner agencies
- Voluntary and community groups
- Citizen bloggers
- Talking to the sharers about their needs and how you can meet them - they are the 'service users' for online democracy
- Publishing the stuff of democracy in a form that can be easily shared, online and off
- Taking steps to build the 'democracy community' - recognising and supporting the sharers
- Responding to the feedback
This last point is of course a massive practical and cultural challenge - recognising that it needs to happen would be a good start.