Democratizing InequalitiesDilemmas of the New Public Participation

Democratizing InequalitiesDilemmas of the New Public Participation

Caroline W. Lee, Michael McQuarrie, and Edward T. Walker

Print publication date: 2016

ISBN: 9781479847273

Publisher: NYU Press


Opportunities to “have your say,” “get involved,” and “join the conversation” are everywhere in public life. From crowdsourcing and town hall meetings to government experiments with social media, participatory politics increasingly seem like a revolutionary antidote to the decline of civic engagement and the thinning of the contemporary public sphere. Many argue that, with new technologies, flexible organizational cultures, and a supportive policymaking context, we now hold the keys to large-scale democratic revitalization. This book shows that the equation may not be so simple. Modern societies face a variety of structural problems that limit potentials for true democratization, as well as vast inequalities in political action and voice that are not easily resolved by participatory solutions. Popular participation may even reinforce elite power in unexpected ways. This book reveals surprising insights into how dilemmas of the new public participation play out in politics and organizations. Through investigations including fights over the authenticity of business-sponsored public participation, the surge of the Tea Party, the role of corporations in electoral campaigns, and participatory budgeting practices in Brazil, the book seeks to refresh our understanding of public participation and trace the reshaping of authority in today's political environment.

Table of Contents

Part I Introduction

Chapter 1 Rising Participation and Declining Democracy

Edward T. Walker, Michael McQuarrie, and Caroline W. Lee

Part II Participation and the Reproduction of Inequality

Chapter 2 Civic-izing Markets

Caroline W. Lee, Kelly McNulty, and Sarah Shaffer

Chapter 3 Workers’ Rights as Human Rights?

Steven Vallas, J. Matthew Judge, and Emily R. Cummins

Part III The Production of Authority and Legitimacy

Chapter 5 No Contest

Michael McQuarrie

Chapter 8 Patient, Parent, Advocate, Investor

David Schleifer and Aaron Panofsky

Part IV Unintended Consequences and New Opportunities

Chapter 10 Becoming a Best Practice

Gianpaolo Baiocchi and Ernesto Ganuza

Part V Conclusion

Chapter 13 Realizing the Promise of Public Participation in an Age of Inequality

Caroline W. Lee, Michael McQuarrie, and Edward T. Walker