Citizen participation


Citizen participation is a process that provides individuals with an opportunity to influence public decisions and has long been a component of the democratic decision-making process. The roots of citizen participation go back to ancient Greece and colonial New England before the 1960s, government processes and procedures were designed to facilitate “outsider” participation. Citizen participation was institutionalized in the mid-1960s with President Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society programs.

To correctly define citizen participation we can refer to all the decisions in which the goal is the promotion of both the progress of the community and the lifestyle. The degree of importance of citizen participation in decisions is to achieve, in a certain way, access to local government determinations without integrating the structure of political parties.

Many companies or individuals choose to exclude or minimize public participation in planning efforts, claiming that citizen participation is too costly and time consuming. However, many citizen participation programs are initiated in response to public reaction to a proposed project or action. However, there are tangible benefits that can be derived from an effective citizen participation program.

Many people have a sense of commitment to their neighborhood and are actively involved in activities to improve the quality of life there. This is called “citizen participation”. For example, local residents engage in volunteer work, organize garbage cleanups, create collectives to buy solar panels, or form local care cooperatives. They can also participate in making decisions about the municipal budget.

Cogan and Sharpe (1986) identify three benefits of citizen participation in the planning process:

  • Information and ideas on public issues.
  • Public support in planning decisions.
  • Avoid lengthy disputes and costly delays.

When discussing citizen participation theory, it is useful to review broad theories such as this: DeSario and Langton, in their book “Citizen Participation in Public Decision Making”, explore the role of technology in public policy decisions, they conclude that public decisions are increasingly influenced by technology; define and analyze two major decision-making structures: the technocratic approach and the democratic approach.