International Observatory on Participatory Democracy

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INM Symposium - Developing Expertise in the Design of Participatory Tools: Professionalization and Diversification of the Public Participation Field

The symposium will be held over 2 days from July 21 to 22 and is held in conjunction with the IPSA World Congress of Political Science. The symposium is included with World Congress registration but is also available to members of the public who wish to attend the symposium only. The fee for the symposium is $40 USD. Scroll down to the bottom of the page to register for the symposium only.
The objective of this symposium is to better understand the conditions involved in the negotiation of the participatory design by looking at the actors that initiate and organize public participation. The diversification of public participation activities shows the complexity of the field of public participation: public participation professionals take different approaches and develop different designs for participation mechanisms, which may be initiated by either public authorities or civil society. For example, governments and developers generally tend to contract out public participation to consultants or specialized non-profit organizations. In some countries or some public sectors, however, governments have chosen to have their public administrations deal directly with the organization of public participation. Large developers also tend to handle this responsibility themselves. Similarly, some non-profit organizations or interest groups may choose to initiate a public discussion either by calling on the services of a consultant or by assigning this responsibility to their staff. What are the effects of this professionalization of public participation? Does it compromise or encourage the democratic aims associated with public participation? How does the approach that public participation professionals take affect their abilities to design effective public participation mechanisms? The approach chosen to answer these questions is a dialogue between researchers and practitioners for a heuristic confrontation of knowledge and experiences.The symposium will be an opportunity for participants to develop a clearer profile of these actors, to understand their role in the dissemination of public participation practices and to identify the main issues involved in this phenomenon.