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Innovative consultation processes and the changing role of activism
Fifth National Conference, Australia New Zealand Third Sector Research, University of Western Sydney, 2nd-5th December

- Carson, L (2000)


21 pages 829 Kb
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There is a perception that governments are providing more and more opportunities for consultation-albeit in traditional ways. This increased opportunity for consultation is not necessarily leading to greater influence in the decision-making process. Instead, advisory committees (and similar consultation methods) attract stakeholders, professional experts, political appointments and representative activists who may sense that they are working toward predetermined outcomes. Such committees succeed only in alienating citizens and activists alike.

Innovative forms of consultation challenge the idea that activists must inevitably be caught up in consultation methods that are tokenistic or manipulative. Citizens' juries, consensus conferences, deliberative polls, feedback panels, and televotes-such methods hold promise. They lead to enhanced representativeness; they offer the added benefit of creating deliberative spaces for sound decision making. These robust methods are described and their relevance to collective action is explained. Activists are encouraged to join the debate about whether these methods should become institutionalised as confidence in them grows.

However, if such democratic processes were to be institutionalised and more representative collaboration was routinely incorporated into governmental decision making, what would be the role of activists? Should activists leave broad-scale consultation in the hands of typical citizens? An argument is mounted for activists to step aside from the ineffective role of committee member in situations where representativeness is a requirement and, instead, to assume the more appropriate and satisfying role of rebel and/or expert, depending upon the issue that requires collective action. As change agents and reformers, activists can lobby for the adoption of democratic practices as well as using these practices themselves. Further, reflective practice is considered to be an essential requirement in this changing domain of collective action.


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Innovative consultation processes and the changing role of activism
Fifth National Conference, Australia New Zealand Third Sector Research, University of Western Sydney, 2nd-5th December

- Carson, L (2000)


21 pages 829 Kb
[ Download PDF ]

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