The discourse and practice of participatory governance experienced a boom in European cities in the aftermath of the new millennium, coinciding with a period of economic boom. This project thoroughly examines the role of participatory urban governance in times of crisis and austerity: Has participation strengthened? Has it weakened? Does it remain unchanged? Has it been reformulated?
In principle, the empirical evidence points to four contradictory directions: (1) the continuity of some pre-existing formal structures of participation; (2) residualisation and the disappearance of some others; (3) the emergence of new practices; and (4) the development of new meanings and new roles for participation. But do all these trends have the same weight or are there some that clearly dominate over the other? Are there significant variations from place to place? What are the explanatory factors for such variations? When we speak of participatory governance we are concerned not only with what happens to citizen participation mechanisms promoted from the “top” by the public institutions, but also we wonder what new participation dynamics emerge from the “bottom”
Overall, how are relationships between government and citizens evolving? Can we talk about new models, new paradigms? What political assessment should be made of them? This project addresses these issues through a comparative analysis of various British cities (Cardiff, Leicester) and of the Spanish state (Madrid, Barcelona, Lleida and San Sebastián).
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