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Hearing the real voices: exploring the experiences of the European Citizens’ Panel (PLA 58)

Guest editors: Tom Wakeford and Jasber Singh. To read the full table of contents please click on ‘More information’ above.

Citizens’ panels were set up in regions of England and Ireland to discuss the ‘future of rural areas’. However, when these panels sent representatives to a larger panel in Brussels, made up of 86 citizens from 10 regions of Europe, participants felt that their recommendations were largely ignored by European bureaucrats. For the most part ‘policy-makers’ simply defended their policies, missing the opportunity to engage in a new type of dialogue. Improvements to the methodology of the European panel are possible. But an alternative approach challenges the idea that a random sample of citizens can be ‘representative’ of wider communities, and would instead select citizens who are able to take action and push for implementation of recommendations, through linkage to a relevant social movement.

Participatory Learning and Action (PLA, formerly PLA Notes) is the world's leading series on participatory learning and action approaches and methods. PLA publishes articles on participation aimed at practitioners, researchers, academics and activists. All articles are peer-reviewed by an international editorial board. See: www.planotes.org

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