CLEAR: Understanding Citizen Participation in Local Government

Year of production: 2020

Image is illustrative. Photo by Melissa Askew on Unsplash

The academic literature is littered with accounts of what can go wrong in participation initiatives. The article presents a diagnostic tool – the CLEAR model – that both anticipates obstacles to empowerment and links these to policy responses. Based upon case studies of participation practices in contrasting English localities (Lowndes et al 2006a), the model identifies five factors that underpin citizens’ uneven response to participation (Lowndes et al 2006b).

The CLEAR tool argues that participation is most effective where citizens:

  • Can do—have the resources and knowledge to participate;
  • Like to—have a sense of attachment that reinforces participation;
  • Enabled to—are provided with the opportunity for participation;
  • Asked to—are mobilized through public agencies and civic channels;
  • Responded to—see evidence that their views have been considered.