Decorative picture
Social Capital and the Participation of Marginalized
Groups in Government 2001-04, ESRC funded project R000239410
Decorative picture


Cymraeg Welsh Flag

Accessibility Statement



Introduction to the project

Objectives and significance

Scientific context, research design & data collection

People/Contact Details

Publications (inc. downloads)

Project Links


Homepage links:

Research Projects:

The Effectiveness of Inclusive Government

An Absolute Duty

Close the Pay Gap

Other Content:

Cardiff University's Masters Degree module in Inclusive Governance

Future research

About us/This website

Latest news

Dissemination events


Introduction to the Project

Economic and Social Research Council funded project R000239410

Research team members: Prof Ralph Fevre (Principal Investigator, Cardiff University) with: Paul Chaney (Cardiff University) Charlotte Williams and Sandra Betts (University of Wales, Bangor)

Project Duration 09/2001 to 01/2004

Brief Project Description

This is a sociological study of experiments in giving marginalised groups a say in government. We are concerned with whether these experiments are working (and should be tried elsewhere). Our analysis is based on a sociological account of their operation. Our research is concentrating on the types of social capital that link government, organisations and individuals and influence the participation of marginalised groups and the effectiveness of the new institutions. We are relying on a mixture of qualitative and quantitative research in order to test the fundamental tenets of social capital theory.

Non-Technical Summary of the Project

At the heart of the movement to modernise government lies the idea that government is both more effective and more legitimate if more people get involved in making decisions, and particularly the decisions that affect them personally. This is the rationale for innovations in governance which create new opportunities for the organisations of civil society, for example voluntary associations, to participate in decision-making. Whether this makes government more effective and legitimate depends on the way the new innovations work out in practice. For example it depends on how the organisations of civil society use this opportunity to make sure that they pursue the interests of their constituencies, and involve the people they represent, in decision-making. It also depends on the degree to which the policies produced by the new structures meet the needs and wants of those whom these organisations seek to represent.

Our study is looking at innovations in governance which are meant to include the groups of people that have been least likely to participate in the past. We are studying the pioneering attempts made in the National Assembly for Wales to involve ethnic minorities; disabled people; women; and gay, lesbian and bisexual (LGB) people in decision making. Our study consists of detailed observation of the work of the National Assembly, repeat interviews with those in the Assembly who have knowledge of the new innovations in governance and with the managers of the umbrella organisations which act as intermediaries between the Assembly and voluntary associations representing ethnic minorities, LGB individuals, disabled people and women. We are also undertaking interviews with the managers of these organisations and, during winter 2002/3, in collaboration with some of them; we undertook an extensive survey of their members using a postal questionnaire.

These methods are allowing us to mount a detailed investigation of the way that the innovations are working in practice and the reasons for their success or failure. We are finding out whether umbrella and membership organisations are participating effectively and evaluating the output of the new structures in terms of decisions and policy-making. We are examining what sort of government people have been participating in and determining how well suited the various organisations are to their new roles and to what extent ordinary members are participating in the new institutions. We are exploring the possibility that the success or failure of these innovations is not simply a function of the design of the new structures but is determined by a range of sociological factors including the accustomed working practices and relationships of managers in the umbrella and membership organisations.






[Introduction to the project]
[Objectives and significance]

[Scientific context, research design & data collection] [People/Contact Details]

[Publications (inc. downloads)] [Project Links]

[Cymraeg] Welsh Flag [Accessibility Statement]


Cardiff University School of Social Sciences
Glamorgan Building, King Edward VII Avenue, CARDIFF, CF10 3WT, United Kingdom
Email: Paul Chaney, Ralph Fevre, Neil Stephens

University of Wales, Bangor School of Social Sciences
BANGOR, Gwynedd, LL57 2DG,United Kingdom
Email: Sandra Betts, Charlotte Williams

Cardiff University Homepage

University of Wales, Bangor Homepage

Cardiff University School of Social Science Homepage

University of Wales, Bangor School of Social Sciences Homepage


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