Participation, top-down collegiality and intermediaries

Abstract : In society at large, top-down participation provided by institutional authorities, mainly in the form of dialogue and consultation, is often taken up (or even driven) by associations (for example, as part of “governance” among “stakeholders”). However, at the same time, it is often approached by the very same associations with defiance and mistrust. In contexts where asymmetries of power and inequalities are huge, the avoidance of sharing truly decisional power with weaker and nevertheless legitimate parties has been widely documented (see Fisher, 2012). For example, decisional power is rarely shared with parties such as vulnerable citizens or migrants with human rights, from different origins in need of welcome, orientation, and integration. Civil society organizations in particular, which try to locally push a broad agenda or a set of general causes, are suspicious of officials offering participation because they think they are trying to avoid the emergence of counter-powers, counting on citizen apathy, and trying to invite “anyone” to the table, short-circuiting representatives of civil society associations, by inviting only highly selected people based on clientelistic criteria and hiding purposes of social control behind co-optation (Selznick, 1949). [First paragraph]
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Submitted on : Friday, May 25, 2018 - 4:22:47 PM
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Emmanuel Lazega. Participation, top-down collegiality and intermediaries. Towards a Participatory Society, Libreria Editrice Vaticana, pp.482 - 498, 2018. ⟨hal-01800210⟩

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