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Participative urban renewal? Disability, community, and partnership in New Labour’s urban policy

  • Political Science


In recent years there has been significant debate regarding the potential of participatory forms of governance to engage with diverse groups and the ‘politics of difference’. This paper explores these debates in the context of disabled people’s engagement in urban policy processes, as an arena in which participative imperatives have become manifest under the UK’s New Labour government. Drawing on a case study of a Single Regeneration Budget partnership, I argue that there are significant limits to disabled people’s engagement in urban policy, ranging from their perceived legitimacy and constitution as a ‘relevant public’, through to the processes of partnership in which managerialist objectives clash with participative agendas. The paper therefore raises issues about the rationale for participation and the extent to which notions of deliberative democracy are equipped to deal with issues of ‘difference’.

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