Urban Development and Citizen Participation

From tyranny to capability? Exploring the potential of the capability approach in participatory designed processes

This paper starts with a quote: “The idea of citizen participation is a little like eating spinach: no one is against it in principle because it is good for you” (Arnstein, 1969, p.216) 

“The metaphor points to a superficial cleansing of the conscience, an intervention that does not eradicate the problem altogether, in the way spinach might sporadically be eaten to cleanse the body of an unhealthy lifestyle. It means that participatory processes might be used, because of their ‘goodness,’ in a manipulative way. By proclaiming participation, I legitimise my intervention.”

This paper was published in a special issue of The Capability Approach in Development Planning and Urban Design, published by the University College London.

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