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The Promise and Perils of Participatory Policy Making

Research Series 117

By Lucio Baccaro and Konstantinos Papadakis

Do civil society organizations representing groups such as women, migrants, indigenous people, people with HIV/AIDS, or the poor have a stronger influence when directly involved in policymaking than when they try to influence policymakers from outside? Does participatory policymaking enhance the efficiency and equity of public policy? Does the best argument prevail in such participatory processes, or is it the strongest argument that ultimately carries the day?

This volume explores these questions by contrasting the theoretical underpinnings of participatory governance and deliberation theories with empirical findings from extensive field research in South Africa. The country has introduced numerous participatory policymaking institutions since the early 1990s. The book argues that civil society organizations might be unable to exert real influence over policymaking unless they possess mobilization capacities and can exert a credible exit option from participatory structures.

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