Citizen participation is a central component of democratic governance. As participatory schemes have grown in number and gained in social legitimacy over recent years, the research community has analyzed the virtues of participatory policies from several points of view, but usually giving focus to the most successful and well-known grass-roots cases. This book examines a wider range of participatory interventions that have been created or legitimized by central governments, providing original exploration of institutional democratic participatory mechanisms.
Looking at a huge variety of subnational examples across Italy, Spain and France, the book interrogates the rich findings of a substantial research project. The authors use quantitative and qualitative methods to compare why these cases of participatory mechanisms have emerged, how they function, and what cultural impact they’ve achieved. This allows highly original insights into why participatory mechanisms work in some places, but not others, and the sorts of choices that organizers of participatory processes have to consider when creating such policies.
Introduction, Joan Font, Donatella della Porta and Yves Sintomer / The National and Regional Contexts of Participatory Experiences, Yves Sintomer and Eloísa del Pino / The Causes of Local Participation, Joan Font, Dolores Sesma and Paloma Fontcuberta / Institutional Participatory Initiatives and Democratic Qualities, Donatella della Porta, Herbert Reiter and Pau Alarcón / Citizens and Participation, Joan Font, Carolina Galais, Magdalena Wojcieszak and Pau Alarcón / The Cultural Consequences of Engagement in Democratic Processes, María Jesús Funes, Julien Talpin and Mathias Rull / Conclusion, Joan Font, Donatella della Porta and Yves Sintomer / Appendix 1. Experience Databases: research protocols / Appendix 2. Municipalities and the Initiation of Participatory Processes: two databases / Appendix 3. Contextual Case Studies: research protocol and case selection / Appendix 4. Case Studies about Cultural Effects: data collection protocol / Appendix 5: Surveys used in the book / Bibliography
This book will satisfy quantitative and qualitative researchers alike, and will serve as an exemplar on how to conduct effective and systematic comparative research. It will act as a blueprint for comparative research in other universes of analysis, and finally, I congratulate all editors in producing such a remarkable, scholarly and well-researched tome as a first-rate addition to the field of policy studies.
'Deploying a sophisticated multi-method approach, Font, della Porta, Sintomer and their colleagues take the study of participatory possibilities to a new level. A masterful guide to the emerging world of participatory innovation in Southern Europe.'
This wonderful book makes welcome and significant contributions to the literature on participatory democracy. The authors offer thoughtful analysis of comparative data on attempts to institutionalize participatory initiatives. But just as significantly, the focus is on Southern Europe: an arena of participatory activity that has been overlooked in the literature for too long.
This remarkable book represents the best new trends in the studies of politics today: it is empirically very rich without being empiricist; it is theoretically sophisticated; it draws on the logics of both the case study and of the comparison; and it is attentive to culture and context without being reductive. Its authors are each individually important in the landscape of political science, but the book is actually greater than the sum of its parts. I expect it will set the next generation of research agendas.
This book represents an indispensable reference for researchers addressing participatory democracy and democratic innovations because it is the first systematic comparative research that analyses top-down participatory experiences in Southern Europe, an area which has always been considered a laboratory of democracy by political scientists.
What do we really know about what we call participatory processes? Are the most well-known cases a good representation of the broader universe of experiences developed over the last years? What are they, why do they appear, how do they work and what impacts do they have? These are the main questions that the book addresses … Certainly, these processes required careful and rigorous research that enabled their relevance to be ascertained. And this is what this book ambitiously does, with a determined academic rigor that allows participation to be analysed in a dispassionate way, removed from individual preferences towards these democratic practices … In sum, we can clearly ascertain that this book is the closest we have to a clear picture of the reality of the existing participatory processes developed by public administrations. (In House Translation)
This book is a remarkable addition to existing policy literature, and as the editors claim, it moves the discipline on considerably from earlier analyses of participatory policies and fills many gaps in existing knowledge; most certainly in an area of Europe rather overlooked in the literature … This book will satisfy quantitative and qualitative researchers alike, and will serve as an exemplar on how to conduct effective and systematic comparative research. It will act as a blueprint for comparative research in other universes of analysis, and finally, I congratulate all editors in producing such a remarkable, scholarly and well-researched tome as a first-rate addition to the field of policy studies.
Joan Font is Senior Researcher at the IESA/CSIC working on citizen participation in public policies. He has been a senior lecturer at the Political Science department of UAB (Barcelona) and research director at CIS (Madrid). He has published in many journals including European Journal of Political Research, International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, Public Administration, Third World politics Regional & Federal Studies or South European Society and politics.
Donatella della Porta is Professor of Sociology at the European University Institute. Her recent publications include: Meeting Democracy (CUP, 2013); Clandestine Political Violence (CUP, 2013), Can Democracy be Saved (Polity, 2013), Mobilizing on the Extreme Right (OUP, 2012); Social Movements and Europeanization (OUP, 2009; (ed.) Another Europe (Routledge, 2009); and (ed.) Democracy in Social Movements (Palgrave, 2009).
Yves Sintomer is Professor of Political Science at Paris 8 University, Senior Fellow at the Institut Universitaire de France, and Associate Researcher at Neuchâtel University and Marc Bloch Centre (Humboldt University Berlin/CNRS). He has studied and taught in Harvard, Frankfurt/Main, Complutense-Madrid, Lausanne (Switzerland), UCL (Belgian), Universidad del Pais Vasco, Catania (Italy). He has been Deputy Director of the Marc Bloch Center (Berlin). His recent publications include Petite histoire de l’expérimentation démocratique. Tirage au sort et politique d’Athènes à nos jours. (La Découverte, 2011).
The book has 10 additional contributors, affiliated with diverse Southern European universities and research institutions.