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Title: Participatory democracies: a slow march toward new paradigms from Brazil to Europe?
Authors: Allegretti, Giovanni 
Issue Date: 2014
Publisher: Les Classiques des Sciences Sociales
Project: info:eu-repo/grantAgreement/FCT/5876-PPCDTI/99134/PT 
Projeto Cidade e Alteridade: Convivência Multicultural e Justiça Urbana 
Serial title, monograph or event: Cities into the Future
Place of publication or event: Chicoutimi
Abstract: Since the echo of Porto Alegre experience started to gain space and emulations around the world, during the 90s, Participatory Budgeting (PB) became one of the most respected and analysed typologies of participatory democracy processes, due to the radical horizons it often poses, and the clear principles that forge its peculiarities. At present, with more than 1500 experiences of Participatory Budgeting existing in different countries of the world, it raises an interesting debate which explicitly poses the question whether or not a unique sequential logic in conceiving the relationship between representative democratic institutions and spaces of participatory decision-making exists. The essay starts looking at Participatory Budgeting practices as a barrier to what can be described as the “double disease of liberal democracies” (DDD) through the creation of “hybrid models” of participatory institutions which could involve a tight dialogue between delegated decision-making and direct participation of citizens in the framing of government acts. PB is analysed not only as a central tool of new experiments seeking to successfully renovate public policies at a local level, but also as a perspective from which it is possible to understand some features and challenges of a needed major “shift” in facing the convergent crises that affect several countries. Seen not as a “model”, but rather as an “ideoscape” (using an Appadurai definition), Participatory Budgeting is red as a political and contextualisable “set of principles” which travels globally through cross-pollination networks, but only exists through local appropriation, especially in urban areas. The essay describes “pure models” and some “hybrids” that merged the most common principles of Latin American PBs together with features which are typical of “deliberative democracy” experiments, as the Chinese example of Zeguo. Beyond the multiple and differentiated direct effects on investments, Participatory Budgeting is valorised for its pedagogic added value on citizens’ civic engagement and maturation, its capacity to strengthen and spread a “pedagogy of solidarity”, and for the complementary integration with the benefits of other participatory programmes, often interrelated with it. Specific references are done to concrete examples where PB contributed to guarantee a better level of sustainability to local public policies. In the end of the article, the author underlines some examples (in Spain, Italy, France, Congo, India or Brazil) which are showing the challenges of “scaling up” of Participatory Budgeting to higher institutional levels than the municipal ones, also fighting against the fragility and volatility that have – up to now – affected several experimentations around the world.
Rights: openAccess
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