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The Theory of Citizen Participation Introduction Citizen participation is a process which provides private individuals an opportunity to influence public decisions and has long been a component of the democratic decision-making process. The roots of citizen participation can be traced to ancient Greece and Colonial New England.
Before the s, governmental processes and procedures were designed to facilitate "external" participation. Public involvement is means to ensure that citizens have a direct voice in public decisions.
The terms "citizen" and "public," and "involvement" and "participation" are often used interchangeably. While both are generally used to indicate a process through which citizens have a voice in public policy decisions, both have distinctively different meanings and convey little insight into the process they seek to describe.
Many agencies or individuals choose to exclude or minimize public participation in planning efforts claiming citizen participation is too expensive and time consuming. Yet, many citizen participation programs are initiated in response to public reaction to a proposed project or action.
However, there are tangible benefits that can be derived from an effective citizen involvement program. Cogan and Sharpep. Information and ideas on public issues; Public Support for planning decisions; Avoidance of protracted conflicts and costly delays; Reservoir of good will which can carry over to future decisions; and Spirit of cooperation and trust between the agency and the public.
All of these benefits are important to the Forest Service in its planning efforts, particularly the last three. Recent forest management decisions have led to prolonged court cases and a general lack of trust among many people with respect to the Forest Service. Decision-making Structures In discussing the theory of public participation, it is useful to review broad theories of decision-making structures.
They conclude that public decisions are increasingly being influenced by technology. Two broad decision-making structures are defined and analyzed: Technocracy or the technocratic approach is defined as the application of technical knowledge, expertise, techniques, and methods to problem solving.
Democracy, as defined by DeSario and Langton, refers to citizen involvement activities in relation to government planning and policy making DeSario and Langton, p.
These approaches are described in more detail below. Technocratic Decision Making The technocratic approach to decision-making has historically been applied in most Forest Service decisions. Strong arguments can be made in favor of a technocratic decision approach.
A key argument is that trained staff "experts" are best suited to make complex technical decisions. Experts are increasingly becoming a part of our decision-making structures in both the public and private sectors DeSario and Langton, However, Nelkin concluded that scientific and technocratic approaches "not only failed to solve social problems but often contributed to them" Nelkin, The notion that the "cure is often worse than the disease" becomes increasingly important as the technology provides alternative solutions to public policy issues.
Techniques and methods applied by experts are most effective when considering technical decisions as opposed to value or mixed, decisions.
Kantrowitz identified three separate types of policy decisions: Technical decisions rely on scientific techniques and extrapolations to determine the potential of "what is". Value issues involve normative determinations of "what should be".
Although scientific information can provide guidance with respect to value decisions, it is rarely the sole determinant DeSario and Langton, Natural resource management decisions frequently affect social values. The technocratic approach to decision making is difficult to apply successfully to social problems because social goals are often complex, conflicting and unclear DeSario and Langton, p.
A growing number of Americans are becoming more skeptical of technology and its experts. One result of this skepticism is a heightened demand for greater citizen participation with respect to technological decisions DeSario and Langton, p.Program Outcomes for Communities.
Citizen Development Citizen Participation: An Essay on Applications of Citizen Participation to Extension Programming. Citizen participation in government has been practiced in the United States since This essay discloses the positive effects of sporting activities on.
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Essay on The need for citizen participation in Zimbabwe Citizen participation in policymaking Pal as quoted in Zhou and Zvoushe. Citizen Participation of E-Government it.
We will briefly look at the limits of the analogy of customer and citizen, at problem of the analogy of business and politics, and finally at genuine political problems. The first problem of the commercial paradigm is the equation of customers and citizens.
Citizen participation, or public input, is defined as the participation of civil society (both individual citizens and institutionalized actors) in the local decision making process”. This can also be expanded beyond the local level to state and federal level public organizations.