Ed McLuskie’s article, “The Public Engagement Industry: Distancing Publics through Managed Engagement and Ideologised Transparency,” was published in Javnost-The Public. It is available online now and is scheduled to be printed in a themed issue, “Critical Research on the Management of Public Engagement,” appearing later this year.
The article analyzes “public engagement,” a term that signifies strategies and tactics to manage public demands for recognition and participation in the formation of public policy. The term also includes government responses to these demands by outsourcing public-government relations to interested organizations. This public engagement industry legitimizes actions and policies through consulting enterprises, public relations and commercial organizations that take advantage of a weakened public sphere. This industry is oriented toward officially planned outcomes by folding public concerns into formulaic engagement practices that use inadequate conceptions of communication, dialogue, deliberation and transparency, McLuskie says.