Governing Through Networks: Participation Dynamics in New Deal for Communities

  • Sarah Morgan-Trimmer

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisPhD


This thesis examines participation in local decision making for public services in the context of changing modes of governance in Britain. The impact of resident participation on local public services through a regeneration partnership is explored through a focus on how participation processes operate in a governance network context. Governance reforms in Britain have provided new opportunities for citizens to participate in public policy decision making. In particular, urban regeneration partnerships such as New Deal for Communities have been designed to promote local resident participation and also to reorient local services to be more closely aligned with resident needs, and thereby to reduce social exclusion. This has presented opportunities for residents to influence local public services; this type of participation outcome has received little attention however. This thesis argues that urban regeneration partnerships can be understood as a type of governance network which create opportunities for resident participation, and that a more detailed understanding of ‘network’ aspects of governing can explain some of the processes and outcomes of resident participation in this context. The research was carried out through an ethnographic case study of a New Deal for Communities programme, in East Manchester. A ‘theory of change’ framework was used to explore participation processes and outcomes in detail. The research found that certain individuals acted as ‘brokers’ through whom processes of influence operated. The more personal aspects of the relationships, or ‘strong ties’, between them were also significant. Resident influence through network governing was largely restricted to the local level however, and was unstable. This thesis makes a contribution to understanding how participation processes operate in an urban regeneration context and how they may lead to changes in public services. The thesis also makes a theoretical contribution by exploring how governance network processes may operate through brokers and network ties.
Date of Award1 Mar 2010
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Bath
SupervisorGraham Room (Supervisor)


  • networks
  • public services
  • participation
  • governance

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