12 Terms for Public Consultation
Defining community engagement can be tricky. Indeed, even deciding what to call it is a challenge. At PlaceSpeak, we use the term community engagement; however, there are several other terms that are used to describe similar activities.
Part of the challenge in settling on a term is that there is no one definition or conception of public participation that can be generalized across all cultures, places or political systems. This has important implications for practitioners who operate and communicate in various contexts and languages. For instance, the terms community, public and stakeholder are often difficult to translate into other languages. Additionally,there is a great variety of meanings attached to terminology, so what works in one country, culture or language may not work in another.
Another challenge in defining community engagement stems from the fact that engagement isn’t a single activity, but rather a spectrum of processes. According to the International Association for Public Participation (IAP2), this spectrum consists of at least 5 distinct processes, including informing, consulting, involving, collaborating and empowering. But even this spectrum doesn’t capture the entire gamut of what is considered public participation. In some cultures, activities like volunteering, community festivals, reporting potholes, and even paying taxes are considered forms of participation or engagement.
To give you an idea of the spectrum of terms and activities that fall under the community engagement umbrella, we have created the following table based on data from the IAP2.
12 Terms for Community Engagement
|Country||Common Terminology||Example of Engagement Activity|
|Australia||Public Consultation||Community Cabinet|
|Brazil||Public Management||Participatory Budget Process|
|Cambodia||Co-management||Commune Development Planning|
|Ivory Coast||Public Survey
|Mexico||Citizen Participation||Federal Agency Advisory Council|
|New Zealand||Community Vocies||Random Selection Processes|
|Scotland||Partnership||Community Planning Forums|
|United States||Civic Engagement||Community Asset Mapping|