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Title: Participation, power and democracy : a comparative study of community engagement processes
Author: Palmen, Rachel L.
ISNI:       0000 0001 3464 8575
Awarding Body: Sheffield Hallam University
Current Institution: Sheffield Hallam University
Date of Award: 2007
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Participatory arenas have been a growing feature of governance and public policy in the 'North' and 'South' as attempts are made to involve local communities in decision-making processes. These developments have been accompanied by a proliferation of research examining these community engagement processes from a variety of different perspectives. Despite the similar themes addressed in the development studies literature and urban regeneration literature in the U.K., there are few studies that compare participatory spaces in the global 'North' with those in the global 'South'. The main debate highlighted in both bodies of literature pivots around the tyranny-transformation dichotomy. Participatory processes are portrayed as either spaces facilitating the increased regulation of the population, or enabling transformation in favour of a social justice which benefits the poorer sections of society. This thesis considers the tyranny-transformation dichotomy in two empirical case studies at the neighbourhood level: a New Deal for Communities Regeneration Programme, in the North of England; and the Participatory Budgeting Process, in Porto Alegre, Brazil. The research conducted fell within a grounded theory research framework, utilising a qualitative research strategy. This enabled a focus on the experiences of key players and community representatives within these spaces. The research findings highlight the necessity of taking into consideration the following three elements when evaluating the transformative potential of participatory processes. Firstly, the twin-track construction of the participatory process, in terms of perceptions, conceptions and interpretations whilst also taking into consideration the institutional mechanisms of the participatory process. Secondly, the governance and democratic nature of participatory spaces, as regards how different democratic models are imbued in these spheres. Thirdly, power relations and the practice of participation in terms of how power can operate as a 'constraining' yet also at the same time an 'enabling' force. These findings enabled the development of a framework that was able to transcend the tyranny- transformation dichotomy as elements of 'tyranny' and 'transformation' were in fact present in both case studies.
Supervisor: Lawless, Paul ; Pearson, Sarah Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available