Public participation and public service modernisation: learning from New Labour?

John Fenwick, Janice McMillan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


The public participation agenda is a significant element of public service reform in Europe and beyond. This article examines how citizen participation in local public services was conceived and enacted under successive New Labor governments in the UK during the period 1997–2010. It is suggested that the emphasis on public participation was central to the ethos of New Labor. This accounts for the persistence of the participation agenda even in the face of scant empirical evidence that specific engagement and empowerment initiatives were successful. Significantly, there was no single New Labor participation narrative. There were instead several distinct strands, drawing variously from the Party's received traditions of State welfarism, corporatist central-local relations, municipal socialism, Blairite managerialism, and, lastly, mutual cooperativism. The article assesses the legacy of New Labor and public participation in the UK before drawing wider conclusions relating to international experience.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)367-378
JournalInternational Journal of Public Administration
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2012


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