It is widely contended that modern democratic society will only reach its potential when citizens individually and collectively are able to use their knowledge and capabilities to shape their lives through participation (outside election times) in public-sector decision making. On the surface it would appear that diversity in the community could be a barrier to many individuals gaining voice and having their needs and wants actioned. However this case study of innovative community engagement initiatives by a Swedish local government demonstrates that the economic, social and cultural diversity of citizens need not impede their having a voice and being able to make acceptable compromises. The nature of the engagement initiatives drives ‘reality checks’ for citizens and council staff, and this allows prioritisation of action and a shared responsibility for the work of government. The themes uncovered in this study can inform practice and the construction of research frameworks for larger-scale studies.
|Keywords:||Community Engagement, Swedish Local Government, Community Capabilities, Decision Making, Diversity, Case Study, Responsibility, Compromise|
Senior Lecturer, School of Accounting , Centre for Tourism and Services Research, Victoria University, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
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