Governance and Participatory Democracy

The legitimacy crisis facing many democratic governments combined with rapidly evolving technological innovation and widespread condemnation of neoliberal economic orthodoxy in fostering the current global economic crisis, have created a fertile backdrop for renewed social contestation and political activism.  The readings highlighted below provide an introduction to conceptual innovations in our understanding of governance, with a specific focus on participatory governance as a process through which traditionally marginalized and/or demobilized groups activate social and political agency by engaging directly and indirectly in the public sphere. While participatory governance is often associated with the exercise of rights, it is often the deficit of rights that gives way to demands for greater voice, accountability and responsiveness.  Whether through participatory budgeting, co-governance of services and programs, or agenda setting policy forums, the social economy has a central role in helping to construct the institutional arrangements that facilitate democratic deepening.

American Political Science Association. 2011. Democratic Imperatives: Innovations in Rights, Participation, and Economic Citizenship: Report of the Task Force on Democracy, Economic Security and Social Justice in a Volatile World. American Political Science Association: Task Force Report.

Among the key substantive conclusions of this report is that innovative strategies to improve democracy, economic security, and social justice are closely intertwined in theory and practice. Democracy requires effective citizenship, which is built on the twin pillars of economic and political citizenship. Economic citizenship entails a regime that guarantees economic rights, provides universal public services as a matter of right, and maintains a regime of public finance to support these aims and reduce and limit poverty and inequality. Political citizenship entails not only the franchise and the familiar civil and political rights but also active participation in governance to secure legitimacy, accountability, and responsiveness. The protection of rights is thus central to both pillars of democracy, and participation in defining and securing rights is itself part of the democratic promise.

Dahl, R.A. (1985). A Preface to Economic Democracy. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.

Tocqueville pessimistically predicted that liberty and equality would be incompatible ideas. Robert Dahl, author of the classic A Preface to Democratic Theory, explores this alleged conflict, particularly in modern American society where differences in ownership and control of corporate enterprises create inequalities in resources among Americans that in turn generate inequality among them as citizens.

Arguing that Americans have misconceived the relation between democracy, private property, and the economic order, the author contends that we can achieve a society of real democracy and political equality without sacrificing liberty by extending democratic principles into the economic order. Although enterprise control by workers violates many conventional political and ideological assumptions of corporate capitalism as well as of state socialism. Dahl presents an empirically informed and philosophically acute defense of “workplace democracy.” He argues, in the light of experiences here and abroad, that an economic system of worker-owned and worker-controlled enterprises could provide a much better foundation for democracy, political equality, and liberty than does our present system of corporate capitalism.

Dryzeck, John. “Insurgent Democracy: Civil Society and State.” Pp. 81-115 Deliberative Democracy and Beyond: Liberals, Critics and Contestations. New York: Oxford University Press.

Deliberative Democracy and Beyond is a critical tour through recent democratic theory by one of the leading political theorist in the field. It examines the deliberative turn in democratic theory, which argued that the essence of democratic legitimacy is to be found in authentic deliberations on the part of those affected by a collective decision.

Deliberative Democracy and Beyond pg 81-114 133-139

Heller, Frank.,Eugen Pusic., George Strauss & Bernhard Wilpert. Participation Works—If Conditions Are Appropriate. 1998. Pp, 190-219 in Organizational Participation: Myth and Reality. New York: Oxford University Press.

Team-working, partnership, quality circles, works councils, industrial democracy–are they distinct and innovative arrangements or is it a case of new wine in old bottles? In the post-war period we have seen numerous forms of organizational participation sometimes as experiments, sometimes as negotiated expediency, and sometimes as hype. Different ideas have emerged from different parts of the world, in different industries, at different times with different objectives. In this book, four experienced international analysts take the longer view and look at the changing forms of–and changing debates around–organizational participation. They review an extensive literature of experiments and practical experiences through a critical evaluation of the available data to reach balanced conclusions about the importance and utility of this concept for organizations now and in the future.

PDF: Participation Works if Conditions are Appropriate

Mullgan, Geoff. “Cultivating the other Invisible Hand of Social Entrepreneurship: Comparative Advantage, Public Policy and Future Research.” Pp. 74-95 in Social Entrepreneurship: New Models of Sustainable Social Change. New York: Oxford University Press.

This study examines “Social Entrepreneurship,” a term that has come to be applied to the activities of grass-roots activists, NGOs, policy makers, international institutions, and corporations, amongst others, which address a range of social issues in innovative and creative way.

Pearce, Jenny. 2010.  “Introduction”. Pp.1-33 in Participation and Democracy in the Twenty-First Century. London: Palgrave.

This book uses recent experience in participatory innovations at the city level to explore the practice of participation. Taking examples from Latin America, which are closer to participatory democracy, and the UK, which are closer to participatory governance, it argues the case for revitalizing democracy and quality of life through participation.

Ruzza, Carlo. 2004. “Introduction.” Pp. 1-26 in Europe and Civil Society: Movement Coalitions and European Governance. Manchester and New York: Manchester University Press.

Europe and Civil Society provides an in-depth examination of how public interest groups and social movements seek to influence the European policy-making process. The book is based on a comparison of the role of networks of activists and their allies–broadly defined as Movement Advocacy Coalitions–in influencing decision-making at the European Union level in three specific areas of policy-making: environmentalism, anti-racism and ethno-nationalist regionalism. It draws on systematic documentary analysis and an extensive series of interviews with activists and institutional actors to examine the role of public interest organizations in these three areas. This focus reflects topical societal concerns and facilitates new insights into the study of European policy-making, political sociology, and social movement research.

Torfing, Jacob. 2007. “Introduction.” Pp. 1-22 Democratic Network Governance in Europe. London: Palgrave.

In Northern and Western Europe, and within the European Union, governance networks are increasingly conceived as an efficient and legitimate way of formulating and implementing public policy in a complex, differentiated and multilayered world. Democratic Network Governance in Europe aims to assess the recent experiences with governance in and through interactive networks at local, national and transnational levels.

Vailancourt ,Yves. 2009. “The Social Economy in the Co-Construction of Public Policy.” Annals of Public and Cooperative Economics 80(2): 275-313.

In this paper, I focus on the contribution of the social economy to the democratization of the State and of public policy by making use of the distinction between the concepts of co-production and co-construction. In part one, I clarify the meanings given to various concepts. In particular, I pay attention to the idea of a co-production of public policy. This concept relates to the organizational dimension of policy and enables a contextualization of the participation of both civil society stakeholders and market forces in the implementation of services to the public. In part two, I discuss the concept of co-construction that relates to the institutional dimension of public policy and enables an analysis of how both civil society stakeholders and market forces are defining public policies. While the co-construction of public policy can produce various types of outcomes, I favor a solidarity-based model in which the State is open to forms of governance inclusive of the contributions of civil society stakeholders and market forces. This type of co-construction is fitting with a concern for the general interest and is ready to use the resources of the social economy. In part three, I review the housing policy case study in Canada and Quebec during the last twenty years.

PDF: SE in Co-construct of Pub Policy

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