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Public Participation and Public Service Modernization: Learning from New Labor?

Fenwick, John; McMillan, Janice


John Fenwick


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.


Fenwick, J., & McMillan, J. (2012). Public Participation and Public Service Modernization: Learning from New Labor?. International Journal of Public Administration, 35(6), 367-378.

Journal Article Type Article
Online Publication Date May 3, 2012
Publication Date 2012-05
Deposit Date Aug 22, 2019
Journal International Journal of Public Administration
Print ISSN 0190-0692
Electronic ISSN 1532-4265
Publisher Routledge
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 35
Issue 6
Pages 367-378
Keywords local government, public participation, new labor, public service modernization, cooperative schools
Public URL