‘‘Hard to reach’ or ‘easy to ignore’? Promoting equality in community engagement

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With the continuously changing world of politics, now more than ever it is important to involve citizens and communities in decision making in order to ensure that decisions made reflect the needs of the public and that citizens have a hand in shaping their own futures. In Scotland, the drive towards community engagement has been deliberate. New and innovative designs of community participation have been trialled by the Scottish Government, including focus groups, public dialogues, participatory budgeting, mini-publics, community action research, social media campaigns and online surveys and petitions leading to a wealth of literature and research in a Scottish context. This evidence review explores the intersection between community engagement and inequality in Scotland. By carrying out a systematic evidence review of over 70 articles and reports, the paper highlights the difficulties in pursuing a complex and critical action plan to overcome inequality in community engagement. We find that community engagement must be placed in the context of broader democratic innovation and citizenship at regional, national and global scale. Appropriate resources are required to foster equality in community engagement as well as the development of a variety of institutions, processes and methods in order to cater for groups who have been, and continue to be, ‘easy to ignore’ .
Original languageEnglish
PublisherWhat Works Scotland
Commissioning bodyWhat Works Scotland
Number of pages38
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2017


  • community engagement
  • inclusion
  • equality
  • deliberative democracy
  • democratic innovations


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