Participation – Activity – Agency – step back or progress to develop civil society? The main aim of the article is kick-off discussion about phenomenon of participation in spatial planning and management. Background to the discussion are results of my, more than twenty years, research on citizens’ standards of influence to the local authorities. It is drive me to the question if is the public participation right way to create civil society, especially in the context of spatial management? What do we expect in that context? We would like to provoke Polish local communities to bottom-up initiatives or make citizens to participate “on the call of the authorities” in statutory forms of engagement in spatial management process? There in Poland do we want to create a “civil society” or a “society of civic organizations”? Public participation is a tool and action that provokes the processes of civil society development or part of a bureaucratic planning ritual to tame the “social demon of activity”? Listed questions provoke me to discussion about five, in my opinion, significant, though perhaps not the only, dilemmas accompanying the implementation of participatory processes in the spatial planning and management, especially large territorial units. These are: “institutionalization of engagement”, “formalization of civic engagement”, “erosion of civic engagement”, “diversity of forms of civic engagement”, “exclusion of groups of citizens through involvement”. The listed issues show that participation is not end of process, but only a tool on the road to building or a civil society or a society of instrumental activity.
Go to article