Diane Warburton is currently working towards a PhD by Published Works based on her research, publications and practice within the UK since the 1980s, focusing on the links between participation, power (for citizens, communities and stakeholders) and sustainable development and between participatory and representative democracy.
The provisional title is ‘Participation. A Sustainable Politics?’. The work explores participatory action including local community development, citizen action towards sustainable living, citizen deliberation in national government policy, the role of voluntary and community organisations in the policy process, formal participation in land use planning, partnerships for regeneration and development and the extent to which these activities create change.
The work focuses on the role of citizens in shaping the decisions that affect their lives and improving public policy decision-making and has covered issues of legitimacy, accountabiity and influence. Within the PhD framework, Diane is working to review and contextualise the work and place it more formally within theoretical and conceptual writing on participatory democracy, communicative action, citizenship, identity, civility, solidarity etc. in order to demonstrate the role of the work in developing a narrative around how participatory democracy may be a key route to a sustainable politics and a sustainable planet.
The work draws on her experience and publications at Community Development Foundation and the National Council for Voluntary Organisations, a research fellowship within a team funded by the ESRC Democracy and Participation based at the University of Brighton (where Diane is an Honorary Fellow) and extensive freelance research, evaluation and consultancy work for a range of NGOs, UK Government Departments and others. Diane is a founding Trustee and now Fellow of Involve, the UK participation charity and continues to be involved in national democracy networks and local community action.