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John M. Bryson and Barbara C. Crosby

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Kathryn S. Quick and John M. Bryson

Public participation in governance involves the direct or indirect involvement of stakeholders in decision-making about policies, plans or programs in which they have an interest. This chapter explores the theories illuminating key concerns: what constitutes legitimate and useful public participation; the relationships among diversity, representation and inclusion; the appropriate influence of different kinds of knowledge; and how to align participation methods and contexts. We describe two areas needing additional theoretical development: what levels of participation are desirable and workable; and the threats and opportunities for participation posed by increasingly diffuse systems of governance.