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Bringing power back in: collective and distributive forms of power in public participation


Koch, Philippe (2013). Bringing power back in: collective and distributive forms of power in public participation. Urban Studies, 50(14):2976-2992.

Abstract

Much public participation research is built on the assumption that participatory arrangements empower citizens and disrupt existing power structures. This article challenges that claim. Drawing on one participatory venue considered most likely to empower citizens in Basel, Switzerland, the study shows that meaningful collective power has been conferred to citizens. However, resourceful and organisationally privileged actors have influenced the impact of citizen’s demands on public decisionmaking in significant ways. The study concludes that the production and implementation of collective power deriving from citizens depends on distributive power sources residing in governments and bureaucracies. As a result, participatory arrangements that aim to direct state action have to conform to some extent to the rules and structures underlying ordinary policy-making. The case study highlights the intertwined relationship of the ‘power to’ and the ‘power over’ and shows how the interplay between these two forms of power places conditions on the empowering potential of participatory arrangements.

Abstract

Much public participation research is built on the assumption that participatory arrangements empower citizens and disrupt existing power structures. This article challenges that claim. Drawing on one participatory venue considered most likely to empower citizens in Basel, Switzerland, the study shows that meaningful collective power has been conferred to citizens. However, resourceful and organisationally privileged actors have influenced the impact of citizen’s demands on public decisionmaking in significant ways. The study concludes that the production and implementation of collective power deriving from citizens depends on distributive power sources residing in governments and bureaucracies. As a result, participatory arrangements that aim to direct state action have to conform to some extent to the rules and structures underlying ordinary policy-making. The case study highlights the intertwined relationship of the ‘power to’ and the ‘power over’ and shows how the interplay between these two forms of power places conditions on the empowering potential of participatory arrangements.

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Citations

3 citations in Web of Science®
5 citations in Scopus®
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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:06 Faculty of Arts > Institute of Political Science
Dewey Decimal Classification:320 Political science
Language:English
Date:November 2013
Deposited On:05 Nov 2013 15:39
Last Modified:07 Dec 2017 23:19
Publisher:SAGE Publications
ISSN:0042-0980
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1177/0042098013482511

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