Will the Participation Society succeed?

Lessons from neighbourhood regeneration programmes in England and the Netherlands


  • Gerard van Bortel TU Delft, Architecture and the Built Environment


Big Society, Governance Networks, Lifeworld and System, Housing Associations


Inspired by the Big Society agenda in the UK, the Dutch government has introduced an ambitious programme to devolve responsibility for welfare services to local authorities. This devolution is accompanied by substantial budget reductions, based on the assumption that local actors are able to deliver more efficient, tailor-made and effective services. Central to this new policy paradigm is the more active involvement of citizens in the co-production of solutions to complex societal problems through the development and sustaining of intermediary arrangements between individuals and public sector agencies such as housing associations. This chapter aims to increase our current limited understanding of the conditions under which connections between public sector professionals and citizens are able to solve place-related and people-related problems. This chapter is based on Dutch and English neighbourhood regeneration case studies. A theoretical framework connecting governance network theory with Habermas’s concepts of ‘system’ and ‘lifeworld’ guides this exploration.






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