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Participatory development or participatory democracy? Linking participatory approaches to policy and governance (PLA 50)

John Gaventa

Journal article

Over the last decade, we have seen a broadening in the uses of participatory methods and approaches from projects to policies, from the involvement of `beneficiaries' to those of rights-bearing citizens, and from a concern with programme implementation and evaluation to processes of decision-making and democracy itself. With this shift, participatory approaches have inevitably entered the arenas of government and found themselves confronting issues of policy influence and institutional change. Simultaneously, as concerns about government responsiveness grew within development debates, questions about how citizens engage and make demands on the state also come to the fore. This article looks at some of the concerns which arise when linking participation and governance, and at the difference participation makes to governance and policy.

This special anniversary issue of Participatory Learning and Action contains articles by previous guest-editors and authors from the last 20 years who were invited to revisit their contributions and provide an update on current thinking. The overview reflects on the overlapping themes and parallels in the lessons learnt and suggestions for ways forward.

Guest editors: Robert Chambers, Nicole Kenton and Holly Ashley

Participatory Learning and Action (PLA, formerly PLA Notes) is the world's leading series on participatory learning and action approaches and methods. PLA publishes articles on participation aimed at practitioners, researchers, academics and activists. All articles are peer-reviewed by an international editorial board. See: www.planotes.org

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