Counter hegemonic globalisation occurs today in many forms and many settings and deals with a variety of issues from land and labour rights to sexual equality to biodiversity and the environment. This paper examines one urban experiment developed to resist the social exclusion that is an undeniable result of the globalisation process by redistributing city resources in favour of the more vulnerable social groups by means of participatory democracy. The experiment was the participatory budget established in 1989 in the city of Porto Alegre.
The first part of the paper describes basic information and the recent history of the city and its government, contextualising both within the Brazilian political system. The second part details a description of the main features of the institutions and processes of the participatory budget and of participation as well as the criteria and methodology for the distribution of resources. The third part examines the development of the participatory budget. The final part analyses the processes of the participatory budget with regards to its efficiency in redistribution, its accountability and quality of representation in a participatory democracy, the notion of dual powers and competing legitimacies and its relationship with the legislative body that formally approves budget.
Discusses the methods of collecting information during a field-study carried out in Brazil, in the health district of Pau da Lima. It was intended to provide a learning experience for students as well as to explore the local potential for Primary Environmental Care (PEC) and to produce a number of recommendations to local bodies. Possible actors, conditions, means and resources to promote PEC within the Pau da Lima district were investigated. PEC integrates three components: empowering communities, protecting the environment, and meeting needs. The first step was a preliminary identification of present and future potential actors in PEC in the Pau da Lima district. A Rapid Appraisal (RA) was conducted in three squatter communities within the district, focusing on felt problems; interests and priorities in PEC; forms and conditions of community organisation; and instances and conditions of community-based action. Methods used include: review of secondary data, informal disucssions with informants, direct observations, laboratory analysis of water samples collected during the observation walks, life history interviews, focus groups and ranking exercises, semi-structured interviews. While the study found the RA methods useful, it suggested that they may not be sufficient to identify community-based solutions to specific problems. The techniques in "Making Microplans" (Goethert and Hamdi 1988) provide an example of how this action-oriented phase could proceed.