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Who Participates in Public Participation? The Exclusionary Effects of Inclusionary Efforts
Administration & Society  (IF2.69),  Pub Date : 2021-08-11, DOI: 10.1177/00953997211034137
Ludo Glimmerveen, Sierk Ybema, Henk Nies

Highlighting public-service actors’ deliberately tokenistic or self-serving efforts, existing literature has shown that public participation often involves the co-optation of sympathetic citizens. In contrast, our study demonstrates that participatory advocates may discredit and marginalize critical voices despite their own inclusive, democratic ideals. We analyze the entangled legitimacy claims of participating citizens and “inviting” public-service actors, capturing (a) the often-unintended dynamics through which the inclusion of particular participants legitimizes the exclusion of others, while illuminating (b) the tenacious propensity of participatory initiatives to establish “constructive cooperation” as the norm for participation and, subsequently, to normalize exclusionary practices.