“A potential draw-back of our broad definition of participation and attempt at whole system mapping is that it produces an output so broad and plural as to seem paralysing and obscure in the context of informing better policy making around UK energy transitions. However, compared to the dominant mode of policy advice which draws on only a handful of invited and highly orchestrated instances of participation, this mapping represents a much more comprehensive set of evidence upon which to base policy decisions and allows the anticipation of coming barriers or controversies. Far from making policy-makers’ lives harder this approach has the potential in some cases to save time and resources by synthesizing lessons from participation which has already taken place”
"Another key challenge in enacting this method is the limitation of the timeliness of results – at the time of writing the results of our mapping could already be viewed as out of date. However, we would argue that many of the broader patternings and dynamics revealed in our mapping are more enduringly relevant. Furthermore, we believe that it would be possible to conduct a version of this mapping in a less time and resource intensive manner, making more use of the resources available from digital methods approaches, and on a rolling basis so that the results could be continually updated. Recent developments in discussions about how to produce usable and credible data visualizations (cf. Moats, 2015) will also be a useful resource in producing more legible ‘mapping’ outputs from this work.
Crucially, however, we see these mappings not only as a tool to be used by policy-makers – as the latest in a long line of techniques from censuses (Scott, 1998) to surveys (Law, 2009) or focus groups (Lezaun, 2007) for making the public legible to a ruling elite. Rather this is a tool for all system actors – including NGOs and other civil society organizations, businesses and community groups – to use to draw their own conclusions and make their own arguments, and to inform their actions and initiatives."
- Approaches to understanding publics in the context of environmental policy challenges like energy tend to be siloed making cross-comparison difficult.
- There is a need for new methods to help understand and engage with public participation systemically.
- The issues, models and subjects of participation in relation to the UK energy system are diverse and multiple.
- Policy-makers and other powerful actors have tended to privilege certain issues, models and subjects of participation in decision-making.
- Mappings of diverse, interconnected public participation provide a better basis for decision-making around issues such as low carbon energy transitions.