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The Social Quality of Participatory Democracy: Social Empowerment in the Workplace and Local Community

Corbett, Steven (2013) The Social Quality of Participatory Democracy: Social Empowerment in the Workplace and Local Community. PhD thesis, University of Sheffield.

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The social quality approach is proposed as a participatory democratic and social justice oriented alternative to the dominance of neo-liberal individualism in much contemporary policy, practice and theory (Therborn, 2001; Walker, 1998, 2005). This thesis develops the social quality concept of social empowerment (Herrmann, 2012) in relation to participatory democratic theory and practice. In empirically-driven but theory-laden case studies of a democratic workplace and a democratic local government initiative the thesis asserts the close relationship between social empowerment and democratic participation, along with the multi-dimensional nature of empowerment. The case studies are situated within the context of different typologies of possible democratic societies. They are both underpinned by the democratic dialectic (Bernard, 1999), which assesses the values of liberty, equality and solidarity as a normative grounding for the research. The critical realist and social quality theory philosophical foundations of this work are set out in Chapter 2. This chapter discusses the critical methodological approach that these foundations presuppose and the justification for the case study methods. Chapters 3 and 4 critically review power and empowerment theories and democratic theories, which develops the concepts of social empowerment and participatory democracy. The second part of Chapter 4 introduces three ideal typologies of liberal, social and participatory democracy that are used to frame the analysis, while Chapter 5 develops the democratic dialectic as the normative guide for assessing the democratic complexion of the case studies. The case studies are presented in Chapters 6 and 7, and analysed in Chapter 8. The findings suggest that social empowerment is present to different extents, and in different ways, in the two case studies. This is contingent on factors including historical development, the form of power relationships in economic, social and political relations in the context of wider liberal democratic values in the UK, and the extent to which the democratic dialectic values are realised in practice. The conclusion reviews the argument in this thesis and suggests implications for policy-makers, practitioners and future research.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Keywords: Democracy; Social Quality; Participatory Budgeting; Local Government; Worker Co-operatives; Empowerment
Academic Units: The University of Sheffield > Faculty of Social Sciences (Sheffield) > Sociological Studies (Sheffield)
Identification Number/EthosID: uk.bl.ethos.595079
Depositing User: Dr Steven Corbett
Date Deposited: 20 Feb 2014 09:40
Last Modified: 03 Oct 2016 11:04
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/5146

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