Doutoramento – Percursos Teóricos e Horizontes da Prática

Cities for Citizens: Planning and the Rise of Civil Society in a Global Age (Eds.: Mike Douglass, John Friedmann)

Town Planning Review, Vol.70 No. 2 1999

– “This book is recommended to all those who are seeking to understand how planning, its practices and its ‘thoughtworlds’, might evolve into the next century”

Product Description

In an era of the globalization of finance, production and distribution networks, cities have become increasingly competitive. The business environments preferred by such international investment impact on the lives of citizens, on urban spaces, services, amenities and infrastructure. In the fight for the future of our cities, civil society has now entered the fray. Whether resisting the intrusion of both state and corporate economy into the life of neighbourhoods and communities or working with both government and the private sector in managing urban affairs, civil society lays claim to inclusion in a more democratic politics of planning. This political shift is refashioning planning. Planning is now recognized as more than simply a state regulatory process; it has become a political activity, central to the struggle towards more liveable cities. Cities for Citizens brings together leading names in planning today. The contributors present an international range of case studies – from the USA, Latin America, Europe and Asia–Pacific – which ground the exploration of ideas in the realities and struggles of everyday life.

From the Back Cover

In an era of the globalization of finance, production and distribution networks, cities have become increasingly competitive. The business environments preferred by such international investment impact on the lives of citizens, on urban spaces, services, amenities and infrastructure. In the fight for the future of our cities, civil society has now entered the fray. Whether resisting the intrusion of both state and corporate economy into the life of neighbourhoods and communities or working with both government and the private sector in managing urban affairs, civil society lays claim to inclusion in a more democratic politics of planning. This political shift is refashioning planning. Planning is now recognized as more than simply a state regulatory process; it has become a political activity, central to the struggle towards more liveable cities. Cities for Citizens brings together leading names in planning today. The contributors present an international range of case studies – from the USA, Latin America, Europe and Asia–Pacific – which ground the exploration of ideas in the realities and struggles of everyday life.

About the Author

Mike Douglass is Professor and Chair of Urban and Regional Planning, University of Hawaii at Manoa.

John Friedmann is Professor Emeritus, UCLA and Adjunct Professor, RMIT, Melbourne.

Fonte: Amazon.co.uk

Inventing Local Democracy: Grassroots Politics in Brazil (Rebecca Neaera Abers)

Synopsis

In 1989, the government of Porto Alegre, Brazil, implemented a paticipatory budget programme. This book tells their story, providing a sociopolitical study of the impact that state-sponsored participatory forums can have on civil society.

Sociology: The Basics (Ken Plummer)

Review

‘Written for those who know little to nothing about sociology, the book presents sociological theory, theorists, and key terms and concepts while enticing readers with humor, illustrative stories, and sociological antidotes, producing a foundational level of understanding in sociology. Valuable to the most novice student as well as to the well-versed sociologist. Highly recommended’ – Choice May 2011

Product Description

A lively, accessible and comprehensive introduction to the diverse ways of thinking about social life, Sociology: The Basics examines:

  • the scope, history and purpose of sociology
  • ways of understanding ‘the social’
  • the state of the world we live in today
  • suffering and social inequalities
  • key tools for researching and thinking about ‘the social’
  • the impact of new technologies.

The reader is encouraged to think critically about the structures, meanings, histories and cultures found in the rapidly changing world we live in. With tasks to stimulate the sociological mind and suggestions for further reading both within the text and on an accompanying webpage, this book is essential reading for all those studying sociology, and those with an interest in how the modern world works.

About the Author

Ken Plummer is Emeritus Professor of Sociology at the University of Essex, UK and is internationally known for his research on sexualities and narrative. He is author of the best selling Sociology: A Global Introduction (with John Macionis, 5th edition, 2011).

Fonte: Amazon.co.uk

Pathways through participation (By Ruth Jackson)

Last week I attended a workshop called Local Engagement in Democracy hosted by Involve.  They had, with the Institute of Volunteering Research and NCVO, recently completed research into how people participate throughout their lives.

The final report of the research was interesting reading and I was quite excited about what the workshop would throw up.

The main findings from the report, for me, were that people participate in different ways and at different levels throughout their lives.  In fact, despite trying very hard, they couldn’t find anyone that hadn’t participated at any level ever.  Even people that thought they didn’t participate, when they thought about it further, had actually participated.  Even if that was going to scouts as a child or donating to charities.

The other thing is that participation is a deeply personal choice, that is largely based initially on a personal connection or realisation.  It’s also voluntary.  So, given that motivation, organisations cannot actively ‘make’ people participate.  They do it of their own free will because it’s something that they feel a connection to.  Organisations can do more, once the connection is created, to help ensure resources, access, information and support are readily available.  But there is little an organisation can do to create that emotional connection for potential participants.  

We often talk about reaching the unengaged, those that don’t participate at the public level, but if we take the learning from this research – beyond providing them with the information, access and resources to participate – there is a real possibility that many of these people will never engage because there’s no emotional connection to the public participation on offer.

And is that a bad thing?  What participation levels are we willing to accept?  There are two issues here, and ones that are frequently brought up by PB practitioners.  These are, on the one hand, public bodies want a fair representation of the community involved in public participation.  This is both to ensure that the concerns, ideas and issues of all sectors of the community are heard and addressed, if possible.  It’s also to ensure that the public body isn’t discriminating or alienating any one group of people.  Plus, having fair representation will help to legitimise any public participation.  And on the other hand there is the real issue of there being groups of people that are significantly more marginalised from society than others, and often they have most need of public support and services.  Thus, in communicating better with them, services are more likely to be aligned to their needs.  

There’s also the perception that participation is a ‘good thing’.  And to an extent, perhaps this is true.   But is it always?  And for whom?  And is it really productive for community engagement professionals, communications experts, neighbourhood managers and other officers and councillors to continue to bang their heads against walls trying to get people to engage that simply don’t want to?  I know, a controversial thought from a PB person.  

I’m not sure I’ve found all the answers on this yet, but this report provides some food for thought and ties in nicely with the international research we were involved in earlier in the year, which looked at who participates in PB processes.  Having now read this report, and discussed a number of these ideas and issues at the workshop, I’m keen to explore how these two pieces of research might be brought together, so we have a better understanding of who is and who isn’t participating in PB and why – and what we can do to enable participation, and what we can’t.  

You can download the report here.  The findings from the international research should be available towards the end of the year.

Reference: PB Unit

An act of Charity or an entitlement? Who decides where the axe should fall… (By Jez Hall)

I was once employed by a wonderful charity that for 30 years did good things in poor neighbourhoods. We helped people help themselves to make a better place to live. Despite our best efforts the Trustees reluctantly closed the charity because of a risk it would breach charity commission rules by running at a loss. The reason I believe was some petty politicking in our local council, resulting in an unfair and ill considered cut in their financial support to the charity. This happened under the pretence of seeking best value. We were undercut by another charity which said by using volunteers it could do our work for less. Two years later the council realised that wasn’t working, so tried to restore our funding. By then we had shut down. 

None of the communities we helped had any say in the matter. I guess it ended up costing the council more in the long run. Oh, and it was a Labour council, in case you wondered.

The message from the council was ‘We will look after you, as long as you do what we want’. Of ‘power over’ the community and voluntary sector. Those receiving public funding are generally expected to be grateful, in this case as receivers of a grant. Or reform themselves by becoming more competitive by adopting a ‘least cost’ commercial approach. 

Like those on state benefits today? Who receive the ‘support of the state’ if they better themselves. ‘Power over’ once again, or as sometimes put – an end to entitlements. The message is better yourself, or face the consequences. Like a stern parent talking to unruly children.

David Cameron’s Big Society expressed through its call to citizen action a concept of ‘power within’. Primarily of citizens within communities, but also within our relationship to the state. A new era of collective action, accountability, localism and personal responsibility was promised. Yet unless that ideal is matched with other examples of ‘power within’ in our relationship of ‘state and citizen’ it will be just be an ideal on which the cynics can feed. ‘Power within’ implies much more in the way of equality and influence.

As a citizen I feel I’ve less control than ever. Our economic security depends on the whim of gamblers within a financial system which is also driving up inequality in our society. Our political class enjoy shrinking democratic mandates as voters turn away from the ballot box towards more direct action. Church leaders prevaricate over which ‘camp’ to be in., the press remains unaccountable and under the ownership of private interests as the Leveson enquiry shows. Lawyers enjoy huge fees for commercial contract law or taking out injunctions for the wealthy. Whilst shrinking legal aid denies most of us recourse to the law.

The Big Society is a deal. Our political leaders have said what they want of us to help fix our broken Britain , and many of us already do it willingly. Now we need to say clearly to our political leaders the things which we believe are right. We need to speak out. That means a more participatory, active and open democracy. After all, it’s our taxes that pay for our democracy.

Let’s be adults and transact our civil business as equals. That’s why I support the People’s Budget:

http://www.thepeoplesbudget.org.uk/ 

Reference: PB Unit

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