The idea of civil society has been at the center of public service reform for several years.
Its promotion has been encouraged by the rise of third-party government and need to provide higher-quality, more citizen and choice-centered public services.
Government has celebrated people as agents of change and created opportunities for committed citizens and motivated amateurs to take centre stage and make public policy.
Cultural and commercial accomplices have included user-friendly, user-generated media platforms.
And the feeling of a citizen revolution has been promoted by calls to arms of events like Making Poverty History and Earth Aid.
What's followed in public management is a boom in 'public consultation' by service providers, the rise of initiatives such as participatory budgeting and the positioning of the Third Sector as a deliverer of public services.
But for every step forward in giving 'power to the people', there appears to be ever-increasing powerless-ness or people behaving in ways that increase the 'democratic deficit'.
In Unlocking Innovation, a recent paper by the policy think tank Demos, writer Melissa Mean gets under the lid of the dilemma.
Over the last year, Demos has been running a participatory planning initiative in Glasgow, Scotland, in which people have visioned the future of their city.
Understanding the value of her project, Melissa writes:
The problem with official futures is that they swallow people's sense of agency.
Everywhere you loo...