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Hinrich Voss

The purpose of this article is to analyze environmental public participation in the UK from the perspective of the polluting organization. Public participation, or an organization's stakeholder management, describes various channels available for the public to engage with and influence decision-making processes. Over the lifetime of an organization, the public seeks to engage with the organization or with specific goods or services offered. Such concerns and requests are made, and the organization responds to them, according to how salient members of the public are as stakeholders at a given time and place. Using case study examples from the UK, I illustrate the channels of engagement, the public interest groups that do engage and how effective these procedures are. It follows from this that early, inclusive and open engagement with the objective of participation in decision-making processes are the most effective public participation models and have the greatest social quality potential.

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Home or Away?

Widening Participation and the Challenge for Anthropology

Paul Hawkins and David Mills

Drawing on recent ethnographic research with 'non-traditional' humanities and social science students at a 'new' university in the North West of England, this paper explores their contradictory experiences of alienation and engagement, and their attitudes to institutional 'Widening Participation' initiatives. It argues that these students' institutional survival depends on negotiating the conflicting expectations of their academic relationships and their day-to-day social responsibilities beyond the university.

What might these findings mean for anthropology's own pedagogic strategies? The paper ends by suggesting that a subject that asks its students fundamentally to question their established senses of self and 'home' may pose a further challenge for students for whom strained personal and domestic relationships, ambivalence and self-doubt are dominant motifs of their whole university experience.

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Lain Dare

Alternative forms of political participation that place little emphasis on traditional representative forms of democracy are becoming more prevalent. Typifying the shift from government to governance, forest certification provides important opportunities for political participation with local, national, and global influence. Using Pippa Norris's three dimensions of political participation—agencies, repertoires, and targets—this article explores political participation within the practice of forest certification. The article highlights how traditional and alternative forms of political participation do not act as a dualism and instead occur simultaneously in practice due to historical, spatial, and practical influences.

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What is “Political” Participation

Beyond Explicit Motivations and Oppositional Actions

Sadiya Akram and David Marsh

Wood and Flinders re-center political participation on the idea of “nexus politics.” The effort is laudable because it contributes to other ongoing efforts at broadening our understanding of the nature of ‘political’ participation. Unfortunately, in our view, the authors misspecify new forms of political participation that have emerged by: (1) failing to take Henrik Bang’s work seriously; (2) focusing exclusively on motivation/intention, so that an action is “political,” only if the person acting sees it as “political”; (3) seeing all political participation as necessarily oppositional.

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Kjetil Børhaug

Declining adolescent political participation means that political education has become a pressing public and political issue. In response, much attention is being paid to the way in which political education offers meaningful reasons for individual political participation. Critical textbook analysis may help us understand how political education affects participation. To what extent do textbooks explicitly present justifications for political participation? What kinds of justification are offered? This article analyzes Norwegian social studies textbooks, and concludes that justifications of adolescent political participation are central. Justifications include the individual pursuit of preferences, individual duty in a "contract" with the state, and identities. However, these justifications are also questionable, for they are generally either individualistic or avoid real political movements.

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Crisis of Democracy?

Recognizing the Democratic Potential of Alternative Forms of Political Participation

Brendan McCaffrie and Sadiya Akram

According to the mainstream literature on political participation, declining rates of voting and party and interest group membership reflect a crisis of democracy in Western democracies. In this article, we challenge this view by highlighting the rise of alternative forms of political participation that operate outside formal arenas. We suggest that the mainstream approach ignores such forms of political participation for two reasons: First, it operates with a narrow arena definition of politics; second, it is based on the assumption that non-participation in arena politics results from political apathy. We suggest that there is not a crisis of political participation, but there is a growing crisis in engagement resulting from an uncoupling between citizens and the state. Halting this form of democratic decline through a recoupling process will require changes on the part of governments and citizens.

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Peter Standbrink

This article investigates civic-political and cognitive participation as they play out in democratic theory. Its core purpose is to develop a conceptual-normative critique of the presupposition in liberal democratic theory that these logics are mutually reinforcing and complementary. This misunderstanding of a theoretical ambivalence contributes to inhibiting constructive assessment of epistocratic*technocratic frameworks of democratic interpretation and theory. I demonstrate that these logics circulate contrasting views of democratic power and legitimacy and should be disentangled to make sense of liberal democratic theoretical and political spaces. This critique is then fed into a political-epistemological interrogation of post-truth and alt-facts rhetorical registers in contemporary liberal democratic life, concluding that neither logic of participation can harbor this unanticipated and fundamentally nonaligned way of doing liberal democratic democracy.

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Toward Comprehensive Conceptualizations of Contemporary Public Health

Participation as the Cornerstone of Appropriate Methodologies

Harry Nijhuis

This article explores the development of appropriate conceptualizations of public health, and, more importantly, adequate practices and methodologies to be applied in today’s societal context. Popular concepts like “positive health,” “comprehensive approaches,” and “participation” represent only specific components of larger complexities. My intention is to come up with useful notions for a more holistic comprehension of public health. First, two strands of reasoning, on which my argument is based, are discussed: (1) interpretations regarding major public health discourses of the past two centuries; (2) critical appraisal of influential societal tendencies (to be able to identify what today is “appropriate”). Then, based on these interpretations, notions are developed regarding ontological, epistemological, and societal aspects of public health. This leads us to the discussion of adequate methodologies for today’s practice of public health. I argue that emancipated participation of citizen communities—organized as cooperatives—ought to be a cornerstone in elaborations of contemporary public health.

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Between the Social and the Political

The Role of the Proto-Political Sphere in Political Participation

Pia Rowe and David Marsh

While Wood and Flinders’ work to broaden the scope of what counts as “politics” in political science is a needed adjustment to conventional theory, it skirts an important relationship between society, the protopolitical sphere, and arena politics. We contend, in particular, that the language of everyday people articulates tensions in society, that such tensions are particularly observable online, and that this language can constitute the beginning of political action. Language can be protopolitical and should, therefore, be included in the authors’ revised theory of what counts as political participation.

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Eliana Elisabeth Diehl and Esther Jean Langdon

English abstract: In 1990, the Brazilian Unified Health System institutionalized new relationships between the government and society. In recognition of the inequalities and inequities inflicted upon Indigenous Peoples, the Indigenous Health Subsystem was established in 1999. Roles were created for the democratic exercise of Indigenous participation and prominence in three border spaces: Indigenous health agents as members of health teams; Indigenous representatives on health councils; and Indigenous organizations as primary care providers. This article explores these spaces based on ethnographic research from southern Brazil. It concludes that the roles created for Indigenous participation and governance are ambiguous and contradictory. When participating in new opportunities created by the government, Indigenous actors are subjected to a centralized and bureaucratized system that offers little possibility of autonomous decision-making or action.

Spanish abstract: En 1990, el Sistema Único de Salud institucionalizó nuevas relaciones entre el gobierno y la sociedad, estableciendo en 1999 el Subsistema de Salud Indígena. Se crearon nuevos roles para el ejercicio democrático de la participación indígena con prominencia en tres espacios de frontera: agentes indígenas de salud como miembros de los equipos de salud; representantes indígenas en los consejos de salud; y organizaciones indígenas como proveedores de atención primaria. Este artículo explora estos espacios basado en investigación etnográfica del sur de Brasil. Se concluye que los roles creados para la participación y gobernanza indígena son ambiguos y contradictorios. Cuando se participa en nuevas oportunidades creadas por el gobierno, los actores indígenas son sometidos a un sistema que ofrece poca posibilidad de tomar decisiones autónomas o actuar.

French abstract: En 1990 le système unique de santé brésilien, le SUS (Sistema Único de Saúde) institutionnalisait de nouvelles relations entre le gouvernement et la société en donnant aux usagers un rôle central et en leur attribuant une large participation dans tous les secteurs des soins. En reconnaissance des inégalités et iniquités historiques infligées aux peuples indigènes, le sous-système de soin indigène fut établi en 1999. De nouveaux rôles furent créés pour l’exercice démocratique de la participation indigène et sa reconnaissance dans trois zones d’action et de communication délimitées. Cet article explore ces espaces sur la base de recherches ethnographiques réalisées au Sud du Brésil et conclut que les rôles créés pour la participation indigène et la notion associée de gouvernance sont souvent ambigus et contradictoires.