What's the difference between stakeholders and community engagement? Someone asked me this question today... I'd love to know what you all think! Share your thoughts here please!
updated by @deb-wisniewski: 12/11/17 11:05:50AM
Anyone who feels the impact of a policy, or a situation is a stakeholder whether they are engaged or not. Any stakeholder who is "engaged" assumes responsibility and risk in order to create change.
Interesting comment about assuming responsibility and risk... do you think organizations think about that when they talk about needing to focus on "community engagement" through their work, projects, or initiatives?
In my current work -- which involves connecting rural community members better with local organizations and government agencies, and supporting collaborative processes among organizations -- I tend to think of stakeholders as people who identify in a particular context as having territory to defend. For example, defenders of wildlife, offroad vehicle access, their profession, park "users", etc. So they represent themselves according to a particular interest. I think of "community engagement" as a field of action that assumes that social interaction is a common good and that inclusive, place-based interrelationship is necessary for moving toward a better common future.
Like so many others, I find the term "stakeholder" really limiting when applied to a person. We are not reducible to our positions, but are beings full of compexity, idiosyncrasy, transformation (e.g., aging, maturing, learning from experience), out of which our gifts and skills and talents find their expression and into which we accept with gratitude the gifts and skills and talents of others. However, I don't mean to imply that holding ground isn't vital for some things at some times!!