Excluded from Scotland’s democratic renewal? Civil Society and its limitations in Craigmillar, Edinburgh
Nielsen, Claire N
A new parliament and resulting democratically elected executive marks a symbolic point of hope for democratic renewal in Scotland. The expectations of democratic renewal are found in three forms: (1) in the formal structural changes in governance, (2) in the policy directions of a Labour government and (3) in the push for greater democratic participation from civil society generally. The concept and construct of civil society is not just central to the last of these forms, it also plays a vital role in the governance structures and policy reforms. Craigmillar – a collection of periphery housing schemes in Edinburgh – is taken as a case of an ‘excluded community’ in Scotland during the first few years of the Scottish Parliament. This research explores the extent to which the exclusion of the area is reinforced or undermined by the type of changes envisioned in the expectations of democratic renewal. Literature concerned with social exclusion often mentions ‘political exclusion’ in passing, but here the concept is developed drawing on notions of citizenship, democracy and power. Silver (1995) provides us with a means of distinguishing different paradigmatic ways of understanding exclusion and inclusion and these are used to understand different notions of political inclusion, all of which in some way have a special role for civil society. By concentrating on three local level civil society organisations in Craigmillar we explore the extent of civil society’s capacity for increasing political inclusion in the new institutional environment in Scotland. This research finds that political inclusion is ultimately hampered by unequal power relationships which are not being addressed sufficiently in most of the approaches to democratic renewal in Scotland today.