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Society, Politics & Law

How to use Participation Now

Updated Thursday, 27th June 2013

What's similar, what's different: a guide to exploring Participation Now's growing collection of public participation initiatives.

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Participatory art Creative commons image Icon Participatory Art on the Street- Urban Speed Bumps / CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 under Creative-Commons license At the heart of Participation Now is a rapidly growing collection of contemporary public participation and engagement initiatives, which you can use to explore different forms of contemporary practice. Each initiative in the collection is unique—but there are many fascinating points of similarity and contrast, emerging trends and revealing tendencies.

We have developed a set of tools that allow you to filter and compare initiatives that have one or more characteristics in common, organised around four axes. Our categories provide a vocabulary for self-reflection and analysis. Or they might just give you some good new ideas...


These categories describe the different issues that people are mobilising around, allowing you to compare initiatives that have similar aims.


These categories describe who is behind these initiatives, whether these are people, organisations or groups. 


Contemporary experiments in participatory public engagement take many different forms. This set of categories describes different ways in which people mobilise.


Participatory public engagement initiatives operate at different scales. This set of categories allows you to explore those ranging from the very local to the global.

To start exploring the initiatives, visit the Participation Now home page. There you can select a category from one of four axes to display all the initiatives that fit within that category. For example, if you select ‘online platform’ from the How axis, this will display all the initiatives that seek to mobilise people through online platforms, or if you select ‘local’ from the Scale axis, this will display all initiatives that operate at a neighbourhood or town level.

You can select just one category or combine categories from different axes for a more precise search. For example, if you select ‘social movement activists’ from the Who axis and ‘public services’ from the What axis, this will display all experiments initiated by social movement activists that are concerned with public services.





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