Social Policy and Society

Themed Section on Choice or voice

Marginalised or Enabled Voices? ‘User Participation’ in Policy and Practice

Catherine Bochela1, Hugh Bochela1, Peter Somervillea1 and Claire Worleya2

a1 University of Lincoln, Department of Policy Studies E-mail:

a2 Manchester Metropolitan University, Department of Psychology and Social Change


The idea of participation has been central to many policy developments in recent years. Both Conservative and Labour governments have used notions of participation and involvement in attempts to justify and implement their social policies. Yet, despite a plethora of initiatives and guidance around ‘participation’ emerging from all levels of government, and a substantial academic literature, there remains a major, and potentially damaging, lack of clarity over many aspects of participation, while the secret of achieving ‘real’ participation appears to continue to remain elusive.