a new paradigm for political engagement


Exploring Participation is a new form of dialogue bringing together ordinary people, policy-makers, politicians, community groups, academics to create a new paradigm for political engagement where everyone's voices are heard and acted on.


Why is this important

  • Those who have less resources are underrepresented in political decision making.

  • This is because of a cycle that that people think  politics doesn't affect or have any influence on their lives and therefore they don't turn out to vote/get involved in Politics. Then politicians/policy makers don't consider peoples needs when making policy, and make policy that adversely affects peoples. This reinforces people’s views that politics isn't for them and therefore they move further away from wanting to engage.

  • Exploring Participation believes that there is a way to break this cycle and change engagement. We don't have all the answers but think that we have to start now before people feel so disengaged that they cannot make a difference at all.


  • Exploring Participation is focusing on the link between inequality in society and  inequality in political participation. We believe that whilst there are other activities that will create a more equal society, unless people are involved in decisions affecting their lives they won’t be able to move out of poverty.


Our approach

Exploring Participation is thinking radically about how to do challenge the cycle of under-representation and is putting participation at the center of our work.


Conversations to understand challenges

We're proposing an extended public participation/consultation engagement process involving a wide range of stakeholders and people who are struggling to engage. If this is about creating a new model of engagement then it needs to start from that basis of involving people in understanding the problem and the possible solution.

Some specific questions  we will look are

  • What do people see as the main challenges of political engagement

  • What is happening already, in Scotland, the UK and more globally

  • Where is there good practice



Testing new models to find solutions

We want to try to think radically about how to do this and where this could come from.  If this is about creating a new model of engagement then it needs to start from that basis of involving people in understanding the problem and the possible solution. We will be running lots of mini prototypes to model new methods of engagement.

Some specific questions we will look at

  • What can be done that is accessible to all

  • What can be done at a low cost

  • Is it possible to scale these prototypes


How does an organisation practice this

This possibly ends in setting up an organisation that champions and furthers good participation and shifts the way that people are involved and engaged in decisions that affect their lives. However at this stage, we're not sure what this looks like it could be think/do tank, a consultancy organisation, an advocacy organisation.

Some of the key questions we're thinking about are 

  • If we were to bring a team together to try and tackle this, who would that be

  • If we were to set up an organisation to tackle this, what would that organisation look like

  • Can an organisation to do this be self sustaining


We want your feedback today

We really want this to be an inclusive collaborative process so please get in touch if you've got any thoughts or comments

We'd love people to help us out in the following ways

  • be part of our steering group

  • do some research for us

  • run some experiments

  • any other suggestions you've got

If you've got suggestions of places to visit on our cycling trip please get in-touch. 

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May 16, 2018

I’m currently sat in Princes St Gardens with an hour before my next meeting. I’m planning on heading off tomorrow lunchtimeish and think I’m almost there in all of my preparation.

I’ve just had a great catch up with Simon whose been pulling together s...

March 6, 2018

I’m going to take six weeks to cycle through the west coast of Scotland, both the mainland and the islands. I’m going to embrace the physical challenge and fully experiencing the landscape and the elements. My trip will also give me the opportunity t...

March 1, 2018

I’ve been quiet on the work that’s been happing with Exploring Participation recently; this is because mostly there hasn’t been much happening. I took an interim management job at Oxford SU, which has been great, lots of opportunities for students to...

September 22, 2017

A few weeks ago, I attended a session a changemaker/campaign training from Simon at Take One Action Film festival. It was focusing on the question of ‘what is ours to do in the world’. He focused the session on why do we campaign, rather than the nit...

June 2, 2017

I have been on journey over the last six months thinking about how we can involve and engage people, and I’ve realized that I can’t do it on my own and that I need to do this in a public and supported way. I’m looking to put together a bit of a steer...

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