A Ladder of Citizen Participation

1969

by Arnstein, Sherry R.

8 pages

What is citizen participation and what is its relationship to the social imperatives of our time? Because the question has been a bone of political contention, most of the answers have been purposely buried in innocuous euphemisms like “self-help” or “citizen involvement.” Still others have been embellished with misleading rhetoric like “absolute control” which is something no one-including the United States-has or can have. Between understated euphemisms and exacerbated rhetoric, even scholars have found it difficult to follow the controversy. To the headline reading public, it is simply bewildering. [The] answer to the critical what question is simply that citizen participation is a categorical term for citizen power. It is the redistribution of power that enables the have-not citizens, presently excluded from the political and economic processes, to be deliberately included in the future. It is the strategy by which the have-nots join in determining how information is shared, goals and policies are set, tax resources are allocated, programs are operated, and benefits like contracts and patronage are parceled out. In short, it is the means by which they can induce significant social reform which enables them to share in the benefits of the affluent society. The article also highlights the different levels and types of citizen participation, ranging from manipulation to citizen control, in regard to effectiveness.

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Title
A Ladder of Citizen Participation
Identifier
IIP0027F01
Rights
Copyrighted material
Date
1969
Language
English
Collection
Nonviolence International
Type
Abstract
What is citizen participation and what is its relationship to the social imperatives of our time?
Because the question has been a bone of political contention, most of the answers have been purposely buried in innocuous euphemisms like “self-help” or “citizen involvement.” Still others have been embellished with misleading rhetoric like “absolute control” which is something no one-including the United States-has or can have. Between understated euphemisms and exacerbated rhetoric, even scholars have found it difficult to follow the controversy. To the headline reading public, it is simply bewildering. [The] answer to the critical what question is simply that citizen participation is a categorical term for citizen power. It is the redistribution of power that enables the have-not citizens, presently excluded from the political and economic processes, to be deliberately included in the future. It is the strategy by which the have-nots join in determining how information is shared, goals and policies are set, tax resources are allocated, programs are operated, and benefits like contracts and patronage are parceled out. In short, it is the means by which they can induce significant social reform which enables them to share in the benefits of the affluent society. The article also highlights the different levels and types of citizen participation, ranging from manipulation to citizen control, in regard to effectiveness.
Pages
8