Participation and Policy: Exploring the Social Action Museum

Title: Participation and Policy: Exploring the Social Action Museum
Authors: Gunter, Christopher
Date: 2018-06-11
Abstract: The relationship between government and the public in policymakng has been plagued with democratic deficits in the policymaking process, which include: the inherent manipulative political system (Birch, 1972), the innate nature of the public and their preferences (Fung, 2006A), the public’s exclusion in the implementation of policy (Edwards & Sharkansky, 1978; Nakamura & Smallwood, 1980), and the general inability to effectively hold politicians and public administers to account for their policy implementation (Pressman & Wildavsky, 1984). With these democratic deficits in mind, one question emerges: how can members of the public alleviate these public participation problems? In other words, how can public interests be represented in the policymaking process? The object of study in this dissertation is l’écomusée (or ecomuseum), an institutional movement based on the development of small local and community-owned and managed museums that claim to be in service to society by influencing public policy. It is the aim of this dissertation to understand how the community museum (following ecomusée) is trying to articulate change as a policy intermediary for local communities. In doing so, this dissertation also seeks to uncover the ecomuseum’s discursive practices and strategies, and how it generally aims to socially enhance communities. This thesis contributes to empirical knowledge on public participation. Through four empirical Canadian ecomuseum case studies, this research explores: 1) the intellectual history of the ecomuseum movement, and 2) the role of ecomuseums and their claims to public participation – all the while acting as intermediary agents claiming to embody social ideas about the public good. From a public policy lens, the aim of this study is to discover how each case study defines and implements public participation, who is involved, and how their contributions (policy ideas) circulate from the ecomuseum to the government. In other words, this study explores what discursive practices the ecomuseum engage in, and how they address the democratic gap in public policymaking. Although this research does not aim to evaluate the ecomuseum’s potential to socially enhance communities or to serve as an intermediate policymaker, it does illustrate how the ecomuseum has led to the cultivation of a variety of institutional practices – including initiatives to engage the public, efforts to mobilise local actors and resources, and collective involvement in public consultations.
CollectionThèses, 2011 - // Theses, 2011 -