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Working Paper

IDS working papers;170

Making Spaces, Changing Places: Situating Participation in Development

Published on 1 January 2002

Around the world, there has been growing interest in ways to enhance public involvement in governance, and with it the quality and legitimacy of democratic decision-making. The intersection of growing demands to be included with the widening of political space, in some contexts through changes in laws and policies, complement conventional models of political participation with a new architecture of democratic practice.

Whether in budgeting, policy dialogue, planning, project appraisal, poverty assessment, monitoring or evaluation, participatory alternatives to expert-driven processes have gained ground. At the same time, contextual variation in constitutional and legal frameworks, the forms and styles of political and civil activity, and histories of engagement with external actors, etch distinctive traces on the invited spaces – from Poverty Reduction Strategies to co-management committees – that have become the new development blueprints.

Using the concept of space as a lens through which to view practices of participation, this paper seeks to explore issues of power and difference in the making and shaping of spaces for participation in development. It examines the emergence of different kinds of spaces for participation in development, highlighting salient tracks and traces in previous times and their imprint on contemporary practice. It goes on to explore the dynamics and dimensions of participation in institutionalised and non-institutionalised spaces, both those of invited participation and more organically created spaces, made and shaped by people for themselves.

The paper concludes that supporting the realisation of inclusive, active citizenship calls for a greater understanding of the micro-politics of participation as a situated practice. This, in turn, calls for approaches that locate spaces for participation in the places in which they occur, framing their possibilities with reference to actual political, social, cultural and historical particularities.

Authors

Andrea Cornwall

Honorary Associate

Publication details

published by
IDS
authors
Cornwall, A.
journal
IDS Working Paper, issue 170
isbn
1 85864 472 0
language
English

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