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Community participation the arnstein ladder
Community participation the arnstein ladder
Community participation the arnstein ladder
Community participation the arnstein ladder
Community participation the arnstein ladder
Community participation the arnstein ladder
Community participation the arnstein ladder
Community participation the arnstein ladder
Community participation the arnstein ladder
Community participation the arnstein ladder
Community participation the arnstein ladder
Community participation the arnstein ladder
Community participation the arnstein ladder
Community participation the arnstein ladder
Community participation the arnstein ladder
Community participation the arnstein ladder
Community participation the arnstein ladder
Community participation the arnstein ladder
Community participation the arnstein ladder
Community participation the arnstein ladder
Community participation the arnstein ladder
Community participation the arnstein ladder
Community participation the arnstein ladder
Community participation the arnstein ladder
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Community participation the arnstein ladder


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  • 1. Community Participation
    The Arnstein ladder
  • 2.
  • 3. French student poster. In English, "I participate, you
    participate, he participates, we participate, you participate...they
    participation without redistribution of power is an
    empty and frustrating process for the powerless.
  • 4.
  • 5.
  • 6. Problems
    neither the have-nots nor the powerholders are homogeneous blocs
    Each group encompasses a host of divergent points of view, significant cleavages, competing vested interests, and splintered subgroups
    does not include an analysis of the most significant roadblocks to achieving genuine levels of participation
    On the powerholders' side, they include racism, paternalism, and resistance to power redistribution.
    On the have-nots' side, they include inadequacies of the poor community's political socioeconomic infrastructure and knowledge-base, plus difficulties of organizing a representative and accountable citizens' group in the face of futility, alienation, and distrust.
  • 7. Manipulation
    people are placed on rubberstamp advisory committees or advisory boards for the express purpose of "educating" them or engineering their support
    distortion of participation into a public relations vehicle by powerholders.
    “At meetings of the Citizen Advisory Committees, it was the officials who educated, persuaded, and advised the citizens, not the reverse”.
  • 8. Therapy
    group therapy, masked as citizen participation, should be on the lowest rung of the ladder because it is both dishonest and arrogant
    public housing programs where tenant groups are used as vehicles for promoting control-your child or cleanup campaigns.
    The tenants are brought together to help them "adjust their values and attitudes to those of the larger society.“
    Binge drinking, ASBO’s on council estates
  • 9. Informing
    Informing citizens of their rights, responsibilities, and options can be the most important first step toward legitimate citizen participation.
    The most frequent tools used for such one-way communication are the news media, pamphlets, posters, and responses to inquiries.
    “Intimidated by futility, legalistic jargon, and prestige of the official, the citizens accepted the "information" and endorsed the agency's proposal”
  • 10. Consultation
    if consulting them is not combined with other modes of participation, this rung of the ladder is still a sham since it offers no assurance that citizen concerns and ideas will be taken into account.
    People are primarily perceived as statistical abstractions, and participation is measured by how many come to meetings, take brochures home, or answer a questionnaire.
    What citizens achieve in all this activity is that they have "participated in participation.“
    Attitude surveys: As one woman put it: "Nothing ever happens with those damned questions, except the surveyor gets $3 an hour, and my washing doesn't get done that day."
  • 11. Placation
    They allow citizens to advise or plan ad infinitum but retain for powerholders the right to judge the legitimacy or feasibility of the advice
    An example of placation strategy is to place a few hand-picked "worthy" poor on boards of Community Action Agencies or on public bodies like the board of education, police commission, or housing authority.
  • 12. Partnership
    power is in fact redistributed through negotiation between citizens and powerholders.
    They agree to share planning and decision-making responsibilities through such structures as joint policy boards, planning committees and mechanisms for resolving impasses.
    After the groundrules have been established through some form of give-and-take, they are not subject to unilateral change.
    work most effectively when
    there is an organized power-base in the community to which the citizen leaders are account-able;
    when the citizens group has the financial resources to pay its leaders reasonable honoraria for their time-consuming efforts;
    and when the group has the resources to hire (and fire) its own technicians, lawyers, and community organizers.
  • 13. Delegated power
    Negotiations between citizens and public officials can also result in citizens achieving dominant decision-making authority over a particular plan or program.
    citizens hold the significant cards to assure accountability of the program to them.
  • 14. Citizen control
    that degree of power (or control) which guarantees that participants or residents can
    govern a program or an institution,
    be in full charge of policy and managerial aspects, and
    be able to negotiate the conditions under which "outsiders" may change them.
    A group with no intermediaries between it and the source of funds is the model most frequently advocated.
  • 15. contra
    arguments against community control are:
    it supports separatism;
    it creates balkanization of public services;
    it is more costly and less efficient;
    it enables minority group "hustlers" to be just as opportunistic and disdainful of the have-nots as their white predecessors;
    it is incompatible with merit systems and professionalism;
    and ironically enough, it can turn out to be a new Mickey Mouse game for the have-nots by allowing them to gain control but not allowing them sufficient resources to succeed.
  • 16. Participation is not enough
    AccessAccountabilityActing TogetherAction plansActivistsAdministrative systemsAdvertisingAgendaAims and objectivesAlliesAnalogyApathyApproachAssessmentAttitudesAwarenessBarriers to participationBenefits of participationBottom up and top downBrainstormingBudgeting for participationBusiness planningCampaignsCapacity-buildingCase studiesCATWOEChangeChange in organisationsCharitable companyCharitable statusChartsChecklistsCliquesCommitmentCommitteesCommunicationCommunityCommunity architecture and planningCommunity Businesses and Co-operativesCommunity developmentCommunity development methodsCommunity forumCommunity initiativesCommunity leadersCommunity Operational ResearchCommunity planning weekendsCommunity profilingCommunity technical aid centresCommunity TrustsCompaniesCompetentConfidenceConflict ResolutionConsensus-buildingConstitutionConsultantsConsultationContinuationControlCost/benefit analysisCreative thinkingCreditCriteriaDatabasesDeadlinesDeciding togetherDecision-makingDelegationDesign gameDestruction testingDevelopment trustsDevelopment workers
  • 17. Appreciative Inquiry
    Citizens’ Juries
    Citizens’ Panels
    Consensus Building/Dialogue
    Consensus Conference
    Deliberative Mapping
    Deliberative Polling
    Electronic processes
    Future Search Conference
    Participatory Appraisal
    Participatory Strategic Planning (ICA)
    Planning for Real
    Open Space Technology
    User Panels
    Youth Empowerment Initiatives
  • 18. Common strategies
    Appreciative Inquiry (AI) is an approach for creating a vision and planning to achieve it. AI does this through understanding and appreciating the past, as a basis for imagining the future.
    Citizens’ juries consist of a small panel of non-specialists, modelled to resemble a criminal jury, who carefully examine an issue of public significance and deliver a “verdict”.
    A Citizens’ Panel is a large, demographically representative group of citizens’ used to assess public preferences and opinions.
    Consensus building is an approach that is good for conflict resolution, building and improving relationships between diverse groups and involving normally excluded groups in decision-making.
    A consensus conference consists of a panel of ordinary citizens who question expert witnesses on a particular topic. Their recommendations are then circulated.
    Deliberative Mapping involves both specialists and members of the public. It combines varied multi-criteria decision making approaches to assess how participants rate different policy options against a set of defined criteria.
  • 19. Common strategies
    A deliberative poll measures what the public would think about an issue if they had an adequate chance to reflect on the questions at hand by observing the evolution of a test group of citizens’ views, as they learn more about a topic. (Delphi3)
    Democs(Deliberative Meetings of Citizens’) is a conversation game enabling small groups to discuss public policy issues. No speakers or experts are needed, as pre-prepared cards convey the necessary facts. It works best for six people over two hours, but it is flexible.
    A Future Search conference is a way for a community or organisation to create a shared vision for its future. It enrols a large group of stakeholders who take part in a highly structured process lasting ideally two and a half days.
    Open Space Technology is often referred to as ”Open Space” for short. It is a meeting framework that allows unlimited numbers of participants to form their own discussions around a central theme. It is highly dynamic and good at generating enthusiasm, as well as commitment to action.
  • 20. Common strategies
    Participatory Appraisal (PA) is a broad empowerment approach striving to build community knowledge and encouraging grassroots action. It uses a lot of visually based methods, making it especially useful for participants who find other methods of participation intimidating or complicated.
    The Participatory Strategic Planning process is a consensus building approach that enables a community or work group to articulate together how they would like their community or organisation to develop over the next few years.
    Planning for Real Participants make a 3D model of their local area and place suggestions of the way they would like to see their community develop. They then prioritise these in groups and create an action plan for decision-makers to take away.
    User Panels are regular meetings of service users about the quality of a service, or other related topics. They help to identify the concerns and priorities of service users and can lead to the early identification of problems or ideas for improvements.
  • 21. Demonstrations
    By definition, by going on a demonstration
    you are not participating, you are
    external to the decision-makers. If the
    demonstration forces a decision to be
    made you’re still not participating in
    the decision process. That decision was
    made by Government. Participation is the
    involvement in the process of making a
    decision. Ray Sheath, Scarman Trust
    Or need to have some power to participate equally?
    Or a step towards genuine participation?
    The critical distinction in terms of
    participation is that which occurs through
    the opening-up of existing government
    structures to greater public involvement
    [top-down]; and the creation of new
    empowered social groups [bottom up].
    Stephen Coleman, Oxford University
  • 22. mutualism and localism
    The genesis of the ‘Big Society’ was the idea, first articulated by Phillip Blond, that the stifling duopoly of a centralised state and a laissez-faire free market had reached the point of diminishing returns – and that nothing less than a radical, coherent platform for reinvigorating civil society would suffice
    Empowering individuals and communities: Decentralising and redistributing power not just from Whitehall to local government, but also directly to communities, neighbourhoods and individuals
    Encouraging social responsibility: Encouraging organisations and individuals to get involved in social action, whether small neighbourly activities like hosting a Big Lunch to large collective actions like saving the local post office
    Creating an enabling and accountable state: Transforming government action from top-down micromanagement and one-size-fits-all solutions to a flexible approach defined by transparency, payment by results, and support for social enterprise and cooperatives
  • 23.!
    It is a serious mistake to presume that
    more participation is necessarily better
    Paul Burton, University of Bristol
  • 24. Reflections
    How has your research on the student community organising activities gone?
    How did they compare with Arnstein’s ladder of participation?
    If you were to continue investigating your group, what participation strategy might you choose?
    How does your chosen organising activity fit with notions of ‘Big Society’?