1st Edition

The Professionalization of Public Participation

Edited By Laurence Bherer, Mario Gauthier, Louis Simard Copyright 2017
    274 Pages 4 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    274 Pages 4 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    The Professionalization of Public Participation is an edited collection of essays by leading and emerging scholars examining the emerging profession of public participation professionals.

    Public participation professionals are persons working in the public, private, or third sectors that are paid to design, implement, and/or facilitate participatory forums. The rapid growth and proliferation of participatory arrangements call for expertise in the organizing of public participation. The contributors analyze the professionalization of this practice in different countries (United States, France, Canada, Italy, and the United Kingdom) to see how their actions challenge the development of participatory arrangements. Designing such processes is a delicate activity, since it may affect not only the quality of the processes and their legitimacy, but also their capacity to influence decision-making.

    Table of Contents

    List of figures

    List of tables


    Chapter 1: Introduction. The public participation professional: an invisible but pivotal actor in participatory processes

    Laurence Bherer, Mario Gauthier & Louis Simard

    Section I. Specific context

    Chapter 2: Innovating public participation. The role of PPPs and institutions in Italy

    Rodolfo Lewanski & Stefania Ravazzi

    Chapter 3: The participatory democracy market in France: Between standardization and fragmentation

    Alice Mazeaud & Magali Nonjon

    Chapter 4: Public participation professionals in the US: Confronting challenges of equity and empowerment

    Caroline W. Lee

    Chapter 5: Who’s the client? The sponsor, citizens, or the participatory process? Tensions in the Quebec (Canada) public participation field

    Laurence Bherer, Mario Gauthier & Louis Simard

    Chapter 6: Expertise, professionalization and reflexivity in mediating public participation: Perspectives from STS and British science and democracy

    Jason Chilvers

    Section II. Actors and networks

    Chapter 7: Making it official: Participation professionals and the challenge of institutionalizing deliberative democracy

    Oliver Escobar

    Chapter 8: Negotiating professional boundaries: Learning from collaboration between academics and deliberation practitioners

    David Kahane & Kristjana Loptson

    Chapter 9: Making citizen panels a "universal bestseller": Transnational mobilization practices of public participation advocates

    Nina Amelung & Louisa Grabner

    Chapter 10: Learning to facilitate: Implications for skill development in the public participation field

    Kathryn S. Quick & Jodi R. Sandfort

    Chapter 11: Conclusion

    Laurence Bherer, Mario Gauthier & Louis Simard

    List of Contributors


    Laurence Bherer is Associate Professor of Public Administration and Policy in the Political Science Department at the Université de Montréal. Her research focuses on participatory democracy, local democracy, and urban politics in Canada and Europe.

    Mario Gauthier is Full Professor of Urban Studies in the Social Sciences Department at the Université du Québec en Outaouais. His research work concerns urban and regional planning, environmental impact assessment, and sustainable development.

    Louis Simard is Associate Professor in the School of Political Studies at the University of Ottawa. His research work focuses on public participation, instruments of public action, social acceptability, and organizational learning in the environmental and energy sectors.

    "As public authorities and other institutions increasingly employ public participation processes, we are witnessing the emergence of a new cadre of actors: public participation professionals (PPPs). PPPs play a significant role in negotiating the design, application, and impact of participatory processes and yet our knowledge of their activities is limited. This timely collection opens up this novel field of activity to systematic and critical reflection."Graham Smith, Professor of Politics at the Centre for the Study of Democracy (CSD), University of Westminster

    "The last several decades have spawned an incredible resurgence of interest in public participation. As the field has grown, so too has the proliferation of public participation professionals—individuals working the public, nonprofit, or private sector who are paid to design, implement, and/or facilitate participatory forums. Anyone interested in public participation must read this book to understand how these actors are professionalizing the field, and how this professionalization is shaping (for better and for worse) the growth, development, and prospects of public participation in the 21st century."Tina Nabatchi, Associate Professor of Public Administration and International Affairs, Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs, Syracuse University

    "The book makes a series of solid conclusions about why public participation is professionalizing at such speed, the effects of standardization, and the fragility of the profession. It also outlines future research opportunities. It makes a valuable contribution to the growing body of work in this area."Helen E. Christensen, Journal of Public Deliberation

    ".. este trabajo tiene la virtud de relacionar los aspectos organizativos de los procesos de la democratización con las temáticas «clásicas» de las teorías de la organización, abriendo numerosos puntos de fuga interpretativos como los que ofrece la posibilidad de conocer la relación actual entre Estado, burocracia y democracia desde la práctica del PPP. Asimismo, ofrece ejemplos sobre cómo el estudio de las prácticas del agente PPP pueden ayudar a entender la calidad de los procesos de profundización, por lo que su contenido interesa tanto a académicas/os, como a facilitadoras/es interesadas/os en la democratización inclusiva."Revista Española de Ciencia Política. Núm. 46. Marzo 2018, pp. 299-303

    "The particularly useful contribution of the text is how the authors’ different contexts shape how they explain the emergence of the public participation professional and her role. This is especially stark in offering a unique critical perspective of public participation."Brad A. M. Johnson, Journal of Public Affairs Education