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Michelle Farr

This chapter uses governance analysis to understand the processes of participatory governing through co-production and co-design techniques. Using two case studies, one in health services and one in local government, the chapter examines how actors engaged in participative processes and spaces. Governance analysis can be aligned with realist social theory, to avoid over-attribution of agential power, or, conversely, an emphasis on power as domination. Realist social theory enables an understanding of power dynamics within participatory governing, theorizing agents as active and reflective, but constrained by social circumstances. Our governance analysis framework helps to investigate how and why participatory governing techniques have particular effects in complex and contingent cases, focussing on the specific contextual elements that may facilitate or limit changes. This enables us to identify where there are constraining or emancipating processes and contexts, and how we, as reflexive actors, may act and develop participatory practices to challenge social inequalities, and potentially create different conditions of possibility for social action.