Outsourcing local democracy? Evidence for and implications of the commercialisation of community engagement in Australian local government

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Australian Journal of Political Science, 2019
Issue Date:
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© 2019, © 2019 Australian Political Studies Association. Participatory governance practices are enjoying popularity, not least in local government. This is driven by legislation that requires councils to undertake some of these processes; also by communities and practitioners–parties that derive income from participatory governance. An industry is emerging: one characterised by demand and supply, with frameworks, strategies and processes, training and conferences. This industry warrants investigation so that its impacts upon local democracy can be understood. Following a theorisation of local democracy and community engagement, the paper describes the community engagement industry, presenting evidence about council activities, providers and professional associations to establish that the commercialisation of engagement is a significant phenomenon in Australian local government. Possible risks to local governance and local democracy are explored.
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