Participatory budgeting as if emancipation mattered

Gianpaolo Baiocchi (New York University) and Ernesto Ganuza (IESA/CSIC)1 


Abstract:  Participatory Budgeting has by now been widely discussed, and often celebrated, nowinstituted in at least 1,500 cities worldwide. Some of its central features - its structureof open meetings, its yearly cycle, and its combination of deliberation andrepresentation are by now well-known. In this paper, however, we critically reflect onits global travel and argue for more careful consideration of some of its less well-knownfeatures, namely, the coupling of the budgeting meetings with the exercise of power.We disaggregate PB into its communicative and empowerment dimensions and arguethat its empowerment dimensions have usually not been part of its global expansion andthis is cause for concern from the point of view of emancipation. In this paper we thusdiscuss the specific institutional reforms associated with empowerment in the originalversion as well as its analytic dimensions. We also address some of the specificdangers of a communication-only version of PB as well as some suggestions forreintroducing empowerment.


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