Participatory Technologies and the Transformation of Urban Authority
This chapter explores how participatory practices have been transformed from tools of democratization into tools of elite authority. Using a case study of the trajectory of participatory practices in community-based organizations (CBOs) in Cleveland, Ohio, between 1970 and 2010, the chapter shows how “technologies of participation”—once used to challenge the authority of urban elites—have emerged as a central component of urban authority. It begins by providing a historical background on political turbulence in Cleveland during the 1960s and 1970s and how the city's crisis of political authority changed the way local political and economic leaders viewed public participation. It then discusses three types of organizations that claimed to represent the city's communities: community development corporations, community congresses, and the ward operations of city councilors. It also considers what makes participation worth fighting about in the context of urban governance and concludes by assessing how the role and practices of CBOs have been transformed to secure civic consensus rather than express neighborhood interests.
Keywords: participatory practices, community-based organizations, Cleveland, Ohio, technologies of participation, urban elites, urban authority, public participation, community development corporations, community congresses
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