Broad and international literature exists on networked governance which has both described and informed recent transformations in local government. Reforms in the UK have led to the development of strategic partnerships to join up services and solve wicked issues. In Scotland, these are referred to as Community Planning Partnerships. Evidence from numerous studies has highlighted the partial nature of this transformation, particularly around community engagement, with some of the pioneers of this work now questioning earlier assumptions. This article presents an interpretive policy analysis of strategic partnership in Scotland to add three themes to this literature. First, to demonstrate the historical contingency of ‘joined-up government’; second, to explore the practices and meanings used by policy actors to understand ‘strategic’ and ‘partnerships’. Finally, the article problematises strategic partnership working, suggesting that in and of itself it creates effective barriers to community empowerment and even engagement.
- community engagement
- local government