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PLA 58: Towards empowered participation: stories and reflections

Tom Wakeford, Jasber Singh

Journal, 150 pages

This issue focuses on the theme of deliberative democracy. It looks at successes and failures in citizen involvement programmes, and examines some of the changes in the world of participation since 2001.

‘Citizen participation’ has typically elicited enthusiastic support from policy elites. However, past editions of PLA and numerous other studies have suggested that such initiatives have rarely impacted the mainstream political decision-making processes. Often referred to as “citizen engagement” or “public consultation”, these processes may be little more than smokescreens.

The overall aim of this issue is to allow practitioners to reflect on some of these issues. By fostering a deeper understanding of participation we hope to promote improved policies and practices.

The issue is split into four sub-themes:
• Citizens' juries and similar participatory processes: strengths and weaknesses
• Participatory budgeting: lessons from Latin American and the UK
• Gender issues and challenges of representation
• Community activism from the grassroots

This issue also includes three general articles, as follows:

An article from Bolivia on participatory methods to test new technologies with farmers.

A paper on participatory mapping among those whose livelihoods depend on rose cultivation in Bulgaria.

An article on ways of engaging in processes of healing with children who are in long-term hospital care.

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