Participation: From Tyranny to Human Development? Participatory Capabilities in Development Planning

Apsan Frediani, Alexandre (2010). "Participation: From Tyranny to Human Development? Participatory Capabilities in Development Planning" Paper presented at the 7th annual conference of the HDCA, 21-23 September 2010, Amman, Jordan.

Participatory methods have been strongly criticised as being too context specific and localised; by being instrumental to predetermined objectives, rather than an end in themselves; by addressing manifestations of poverty rather than the underlying causes of deprivations; by reproducing local power relations, rather than challenging the nature of discrimination; by being a “tyranny” rather than a means for transformation (Cooke and Kothari, 2001). The critiques call for a theoretical framework that can safeguard the original radical roots of participatory methods (Hickey and Mohan, 2004). This article argues that Human Development can complement participatory methods by providing the theoretical underpinnings necessary to assess participation as an end in itself (Frediani, 2006). With the objective to assess this complementarities between Human Development and Participatory methods, this paper expands on the concept of “participatory capabilities” to unfold local residents’ choice, ability and opportunity to engage in different dimensions of participation. The paper proposes a framework for the application of participatory methods through a human development perspective in a way that unfolds its limitations and opportunities for transformative change.
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