Purpose of Review:
We review 50 articles from 2015 and 2016 that focus upon public and stakeholder engagement as it pertains to the built environment. Our purpose is to understand the current state of the literature and approaches being used to better enable public and stakeholder engagement. As part of this review, we consider whether recent digital and mobile technologies have enabled advances for stakeholder and public participation.
The literature suggests some positive and some challenging developments. Researchers clearly suggest that most policy-makers and planners understand, and to some extent, aspire toward enabling more inclusive participatory planning processes. That said, there is far less consensus as to how to make meaningful inclusive participatory processes possible even with digital, as well as more traditional, tools. This lack of consensus is true across all academic disciplines reviewed.
We discuss these issues as well as current solutions offered by many scholars. We find that no single solution can be applied to different situations, as contextual factors create different problems in different situations, and that the participation process itself can create biases that can—intentionally or unintentionally—benefit some participants over others. We conclude with a series of questions for practitioners and researchers to consider when evaluating inclusive engagement.