Reflections on 20 years of public consultations


Rhion Jones and Elizabeth Gammell

Authors of The Art of Consultation (2008)

and The Politics of Consultation (2018)

What has changed in the world of consultation in the twenty years we have monitored this form of public engagement?


In 2003, we and others were founders of The Consultation Institute, and two decades later it seems an appropriate moment to reflect on what has happened over the years. From talking to long-standing colleagues and reviewing recent documents and outcomes, a genuine paradox emerges.


For, in some respects, public consultation has changed enormously, but in other ways, it has changed little. In the oft-quoted French saying “Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose.“ The more things change, the more they stay the same.


Over the coming weeks, we will publish a number of Reflections covering many aspects of the public consultation, starting with a comprehensive Introduction. Reflection One addresses the criticisms of onsultation that have been voiced over the years. To what extent do these still apply?


Readers may find this set of papers an excellent way to help those who are new to public consultations become familiar with the subject, maybe as an adjunct to more formal training. Similarly, experienced Managers may use these to review their understanding of the disipline. Rhion and Elizabeth are also available to attend Workshop sessions to pursue some of the themes in detail with consultations teams.