By William Boyce
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Extra info for A Seat at the Table: Persons with Disabilities and Policy Making
The definition should incorporate the means/end issue and focus on an organizational-empowerment interpretation of participation. Finally, the definition should explicitly address concepts of power. Citizen participation has a variety of meanings that focus on sharing in activities by virtue of entitlement or right and derive from the basic constructs of democratic theory (Neufeldt 1988). Pateman, in her classic political science work Participation and Democratic Theory (1970), notes that the notion of participation is used widely, often with an imprecise definition or no definition, to include almost any situation in which even a minimal amount of interaction takes place.
Here we examine both the "objective outcomes" - the actual legislation achieved and the influence advocacy group members had in shaping it - and the "subjective outcomes" - the perceptions of the main stakeholder groups about their roles and influence. We also try to elicit the perceptions of key stakeholders about their successes and failures in these policy processes and about the lessons they learned over the course of their participation. Since the Charter of Rights and Freedoms represents the fundamental legal argument for including persons with disabilities in the policymaking process, it is important background for both federal and provincial cases.
Arnstein's typology implies a zero-sum power situation in which there is deemed to be a fixed amount of power or benefits in society. The power that one group wins is achieved only through loss of power by another group. Arnstein's "Ladder of Participation" is implicit in many of the efforts to develop scales for evaluating the degree of citizen participation (Rifkinetal. 1988). Alternatively, Susskind and Elliott (1983) propose a non-zero-sum gradient of participatory influence: from paternalism (centralized decision-making), to conflict (citizen confrontation over control of policies), to co-production (negotiated decision-making wherein power is shared and both parties gain information about community problems).
A Seat at the Table: Persons with Disabilities and Policy Making by William Boyce