Runaway Train: Public Participation and the Case of HS2 -- CANCELLED

Wednesday, July 16, 2014: 4:18 PM
Room: 501
Amanda CROMPTON , Nottingham University Business School, University of Nottingham, Nottingham, United Kingdom
In recent years, public participation has increasingly featured in policy decision making.  While top-down, or formal methods of participation are upheld as an endorsement of democratic decision making, there is limited understanding of public participation as an informal, or organic phenomenon.  This paper contributes to debates about public participation by exploring the interplay between top-down (formal) and bottom-up (informal) interactions between policy makers, planners and the public.  In focusing on the motives and experiences of ordinary people as they seek to influence decisions around a prolific policy issue the paper engages with theories of deliberative democracy and public deliberation (see for example Bohman, 1997; Elster, 1998; Dryzek, 2000; Fishkin, 2009; Mansbridge et al., 2012).  By exploring these interactions a more nuanced understanding of multidimensional public participation is developed, highlighting some of the challenges for policy makers when consulting about major policy developments and illustrating how the public might drive deliberations about a policy issue. 

Our empirical case focuses on the informal participatory mechanisms that informed debates concerning the development of a high speed rail network in England (HS2).  In particular we seek to understand 1) how social actors respond to formal consultation opportunities around high profile policy issues, 2) how social actors strive for public deliberation and 3) how ‘informal origins’ of participation emerge and develop.