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‘Participation’, as Nico Carpentier discusses at length in the early chapters of this engaging book, is an important if loose and slippery idea both in media and in politics. Indeed, it has become a fashionable term. The extension of the invitation to participate is a regular ingredient in the strategies of media producers and politicians, making the notion one that lends itself to various ruses – varieties of ‘participation-lite’ so to speak (or what Carpentier calls ‘minimal’ versions), not to mention those that are relatively straightforward acts of deception. Nevertheless, the adjustment of power relations through more participation by non-elites remains a necessary objective for democratic development in a number of spheres of politics and civil society, even if aspirations here need to be informed by a sense of those structural factors that, in most societies, will work to limit the scale of the changes realistic levels of participatory expansion might bring. He makes the useful point that, in democratic political structures, ideas of ‘participation’ are often in tension with ideas of ‘representation’ (where finally a more passive role – if one nevertheless celebrated as ‘active’ – is allocated for the practice of civic involvement).

Softcover - 405 pages

Published 2011

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