This book explores the international diffusion of Participatory Budgeting (PB), a local policy created in 1989 in Porto Alegre, Brazil, which has now spread worldwide. The book argues that the action of a group of individuals called ’Ambassadors of Participation’ was crucial to make PB part of the international agenda. This international dimension has been largely overlooked in the vast literature produced on participatory democracy devices. The book combines public policy analysis and the study of international relations, and makes a broad comparative study of PB, including cases from Latin America, Europe and Sub-Saharan Africa. The book also presents a new methodology developed to examine PB diffusion, the ‘transnational political ethnography’, which combines in-depth interviews, participant observation and document analysis both at the local and transnational level.
Can participation 'fix' inequality? unpacking the relationship between the economic and political citizenship
This paper, based on a lecture given at the University of Sussex, UK, takes on the issue of growing inequality. Arguing that we know more about how economic inequality affects political participation than we do about how participation and voice affect economic inequality, the author describes ongoing work to identify participatory practices that offer some precedents for linking strategies for narrowing political and economic gaps from below. These combinations in turn contribute to challenging these intersecting inequalities and hold promise for transformative solutions across the global North and South.
This collection of eleven cases from Canada and the United States gives expression to the ideal of a new economy based on fairness and environmental sustainability. Grappling with complex problems in their local communities, organized citizens are forging innovation, prying open cracks in the prevailing economic system and seizing opportunities to redirect economic life.
Featured here are examples in urban and rural contexts and ethnically diverse settings — First Nations, Inuit, Latino, African American, predominantly white, and mixed communities — where citizens are challenging the short-term focus of political leadership and taking action now to pave the way for an economy that can sustain future generations. They illustrate a new way of working, tying economic justice to the creation of multiple types of environmental, economic and social assets or forms of wealth.
The importance of community-based and participatory approaches to rural development in developing countries has long been emphasized. This book demonstrates how rural people can best participate in development projects when they are collectively organized. With the input of collaborators in the field, this book identifies the local social mechanisms that motivate and control people’s self-organizing activities.
Budgets are the starting point of this book, and it continues with different types of revenue and taxes at the local level. Tax Justice is introduced and finally the book explains decentralization and the dilemma local government has in terms of limited independent space for planning and implementing plans. The book is designed for field workers and civil society organisations at the local level. Whilst the political context is very different in each country, it is hoped the book can inspire engagement in budget work at the local level. The book includes tools for analysing budgets and understanding political economy at the local level.
What is democracy? Freedom, equality, participation? Everyone has his or her own definition. Across the world countries have a least the minimum trappings of democracy, but for many this is just the beginning. Following decades of US-backed dictatorships, civil wars and structural adjustment policies in the South, and corporate control, electoral corruption and fraud in the North, representative politics in the Americas is in crisis. Citizens are now choosing to redefine democracy under their own terms: local, direct and participatory. In Brazil, they have installed participatory budgeting in Porto Alegre, in Venezuela President Chavez came to power with the promise of granting direct participation to the people, and all across the Americas social movements and constitutional assemblies are taking authority away from the ruling elites and putting power into the hands of their members and citizens. This DVD features interviews with Eduardo Galeano, Amy Goodman, Emir Sader, Martha Harnecker, Ward Churchill and Leonardo Avritzer as well as cooperative and community members, elected representatives, academics and activists from Brazil, Canada, Venezuela, Argentina, United States, Uruguay, Chile, Colombia and more. It takes us on a journey across the Americas in an attempt to answer the question "What is Democracy?"