Information dissemination and public participation

Malone, Dennis A (1979) Information dissemination and public participation. MPhil(R) thesis, University of Glasgow.

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Abstract

This study sets out to examine the relationship between the efficiency of information dissemination and the levels of participation in planning at a local level. The study attempts, through a gradual narrowing in its focus from theory to practice to local area study and analysis, to identify certain features which link the concept of dissemination and participation. The starting point therefore is necessarily theoretical, attempting to develop an integrated theory of democracy, power and communications, features recognised as central to the relationship between information dissemination and participation. Each of these features is discussed in turn - the rising demand for a participatory system of democracy, the position and nature of power in society and the function of communications as a means of control - in relation to the possibility of combining to develop an integrated theory of participation. It was concluded that despite the rising demand for a participatory system, the access to power was central to the development to any such system of decision-making. It was suggested however that by improving the efficiency of communication networks, they could have an important role in reducing the overall control of power holders. The second chapter, looking more at the practical problems associated with information dissemination, set out with the goal of proposing a theoretical model of information dissemination. This was pursued through the identification of certain structural and behavioural elements present in the flow of information, whether they were positive such as a good transmitter of information or negative, like the filtering effect. It was recognised quite early that to identify the nature of those elements an empirical study was required. In an effort to aid the setting up of the proposed model, an information classification was attempted. A critical analysis of the model which emerged took place and some modifications were suggested which could be tested in an empirical study. The classification of information was related to Arnstein's "ladder" of participation in older to try and identify a link between power, participation and information type. This was again left for testing at empirical level. The chapter concluded by calling for an empirical study to test the various elements identified. The third chapter continues the narrowing process by introducing the empirical research carried out in Glasgow's East-End, It precedes through the identification of the problem and the area involved, the identification of persons in the communications network, the process of questionnaire design and interview and indicates an analysis of responses. The final section of the Chapter is a critical appraisal of the methodology employed as being weak, but the chapter concludes that as an introduction to the problem the methodology was adequate. The fourth chapter is an extensive discussion of the findings of the empirical study. It sets out to build a series of models beginning with the proposed GEAR working organisation and by breaking this down into its components it is possible to analyse the patters of information dissemination of each of its members. Prom these, points of feedback were assessed. This enabled an overall model of information dissemination to be constructed for the local area. By doing this, the key nodes identified in the second chapter could be highlighted. It was also expected to be able to identify the most effective means of disseminating information, the most efficient participant, the fastest route and so on. This model is then compared to the theoretical model proposed in the second chapter. The variety of information abstracted from the local study is tested against Arnstein's "ladder" and the outcome of this is documented. The chapter concludes that, a study of greater detail is still necessary, an objective analysis is problematic and the way in which available information is presented could and has to be improved. It is with the improvement of information flow that the fifth chapter deals. It looks for improvements in three ways - structural, behavioural and in terms of presentation. Of these, the first two are seen as long term objectives and difficult to implement. The third approach looks critically at the way in which information has been presented and makes several suggestions for the alteration of the existing modes of presentation. The chapter goes on to suggest a series of more innovative methods of gaining effective levels of participation. The conclusion points to the main themes which can be extracted from the study and in the light of these, questions the validity of the whole process of participation.

Item Type: Thesis (MPhil(R))
Qualification Level: Masters
Additional Information: Adviser: Jean Forbes
Keywords: Public administration
Date of Award: 1979
Depositing User: Enlighten Team
Unique ID: glathesis:1979-74117
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 23 Sep 2019 15:33
Last Modified: 23 Sep 2019 15:33
URI: http://theses.gla.ac.uk/id/eprint/74117

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