Local governments around the world increasingly portray their work as “participatory,” but scholars have identified persistent challenges, particularly for historically disenfranchised communities. Successful participatory processes can promote collaborative problem-solving and correct structural inequities, but they can also reinforce existing power inequities and undermine benefits.
There is also the matter of perception: how residents see participatory processes may be different from the way practitioners perceive them. Allison Smith of the City of Louisville, KY, and Daniel DeCaro of the University of Louisville will discuss research into the ways that institutional and systemic racism shapes residents’ perception of a city’s governance practices and look at ways of improving the public participation process.
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