The Participatory Democracy Turn

The Participatory Democracy Turn

Laurence Bherer, Pascale Dufour et Françoise Montambeault (eds.)

Routledge, 2018

148 p.

105 £ (hardback)

ISBN:  9781138503267



Since the 1960s, participatory discourses and techniques have been at the core of decision making processes in a variety of sectors around the world – a phenomenon often referred to as the participatory turn. Over the years, this participatory turn has given birth to a large array of heterogeneous participatory practices developed by a wide variety of organizations and groups, as well as by governments. Among the best-known practices of citizen participation are participatory budgeting, citizen councils, public consultations, etc. However, these experiences are sometimes far from the original 1960s’ radical conception of participatory democracy, which had a transformative dimension and aimed to overcome unequal relationships between the state and society and emancipate and empower citizens in their daily lives. This book addresses four sets of questions: what do participatory practices mean today?; what does it mean to participate for participants, from the perspective of citizenship building?; how the processes created by the participatory turn have affected the way political representation functions?; and does the participatory turn also mean changing relationships and dynamics among civil servants, political representatives, and citizens? Overall, the contributions in this book illustrate and grasp the complexity of the so-called participatory turn. It shows that the participatory turn now includes several participatory democracy projects, which have different effects on the overall system depending on the principles that they advocate. This book was originally published as a special issue of the Journal of Civil Society.


Laurence Bherer, Pascale Dufour and Françoise Montambeault, "The participatory democracy turn: an introduction"


Francesca Polletta, "Participatory enthusiasms: a recent history of citizen engagement initiatives"


Nina Eliasoph, "The mantra of empowerment talk: an essay"


Héloïse Nez, "Does participation mean reciprocal learning? The relationships between diverse stakeholders during participatory budgeting in Paris"


Françoise Montambeault, "Participatory citizenship in the making? The multiple citizenship trajectories of participatory budgeting participants in Brazil"


Pascale Dufour, "Becoming a global activist through local social forum participation, or how to learn to ‘speak global politics’"


Laurence Piper and Bettina von Lieres, "The limits of participatory democracy and the rise of the informal politics of mediated representation in South Africa"


Ernesto Ganuza, Gianpaolo Baiocchi and Nicole Summers, "Conflicts and paradoxes in the rhetoric of participation"


Laurence Bherer, José Luis Fernández-Martínez, Patricia García Espín and Manuel Jiménez Sánchez, "The promise for democratic deepening: the effects of participatory processes in the interaction between civil society and local governments"