If we want to resolve the challenges of our time, councils and communities must experiment with innovative, authentic and legitimate forms of engagement. This blog explains how that can be done and why the Royal Society of Arts (RSA) is partnering with the IGN to do more of it.
Four principles that connect civic engagement and inclusive growth
We are fascinated by bottom-up models of economic development at the RSA. We have explored the benefits of public participation in major RSA projects, such as our Citizens’ Economic Council, our Forum of Ethical AI and the Innovation in Democracy Programme, through which we have led citizens and commissioning bodies through complex deliberations on topics ranging from town centre regeneration and economic democracy to AI decision making.
Looking globally, the RSA’s work in Chicago, Pittsburgh, and New Zealand has continually reaffirmed the power of inclusive, community-driven growth models as a mechanism for place-based social justice. Over time we’ve consolidated a growing body of research on the instrumental relationship between civic engagement and inclusive growth, which yields the following insights.
- Public engagement can surface evidence and insight that was previously unapparent to decision makers. This can result in better policy decisions and superior social, economic and environmental outcomes
- Public engagement can create a mandate for politicians, helping them to make difficult decisions with legitimacy and confidence
- Political participation has shown to build trust, confidence, tolerance, social capital and public spirit in citizens, which results in more resilient and inclusive communities. Improved ‘social infrastructure’ primes the ground for more impactful inclusive growth interventions.
- Well-designed civic engagement processes enable high-quality information, long-term strategy and constructive collaboration to take center stage, free from distorting influences.