Participation is a term often used to describe Citizen involvement in government, community life, and organizations.

Free, Fair and Alive

Today the term is usually invoked in a positive way to imply that citizen participation (in hearings, decision-making, or participatory budgeting programs) fulfills democratic ideals and confers popular legitimacy on the outcomes. This is precisely the deficiency of the term “participation,” however: it is often confined within a predetermined, top-down set of policy options and implementation strategies. The public does not really initiate and show sovereign political agency in a fuller sense. It merely “participates” in public debates and processes on terms that politicians, regulators, and other state officials have already found acceptable, giving the ultimate decisions a veneer of legitimacy. By contrast, Commoning is a more robust, independent act of political agency.

Free, Fair and Alive

1 Elsewhere in the garden

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