Paternalism, Conflict, and Coproduction

Learning from Citizen Action and Citizen Participation in Western Europe
  • Lawrence Susskind
  • Michael Elliott
Part of the Environment, Development, and Public Policy book series (EDPE)


For advocates of participation, citizen involvement in government decision making is synonymous with (1) democratization of choices involving resource allocation, (2) decentralization of service systems management, (3) deprofessionalization of bureaucratic judgments that affect the lives of residents, and (4) demystification of design and investment decisions.1 These code words are, at the same time, anathema to a great many elected officials. Indeed, many public officials feel that only professionalization of service administration, centralization of bureaucratic structures (to ensure coordination and a clear “chain of command”), and implementation of the most sophisticated computer hardware for cost accounting and performance monitoring can enhance the ability of government to respond effectively to the needs of residents. This divergence of views accounts for much of the difficulty that has plagued citizen participation efforts in the United States in recent years.2


Political Party Public Official Public Participation Urban Renewal Participatory Process 
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  1. 1.
    Some examples of the writings of such advocates include Ivan Mich’s Deschooling Society (New York: Harper & Row, 1970)Google Scholar
  2. Saul Alinsky, Reveille for Radicals (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1946)Google Scholar
  3. and Milton Kotier, Neighborhood Government (Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill, 1969).Google Scholar
  4. 2.
    These difficulties are described more fully in the Advisory Commission on Intergovernment Relations’ Citizen Participation in the American Federal System (Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1979); and Daniel Moynihan, Maximum Feasible Misunderstanding (New York: Free Press, 1969).Google Scholar
  5. For a general summary, see Stuart Langton, Citizen Participation in America (Lexington, Mass.: Heath, 1979).Google Scholar
  6. 3.
    See footnote 2. These experiments are also summarized in a number of books, including Richard Cole, Citizen Participation and the Urban Policy Process (Lexington, Mass.: Heath, 1974)Google Scholar
  7. Peter Marris and Martin Rein, The Dilemmas of Social Reform (London: Routledge, 1967); andGoogle Scholar
  8. Lawrence Johnson and Associates, Inc., Citizen Participation in Community Development (Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1978).Google Scholar
  9. 4.
    See Stuart Langton, ed., Citizen Participation Perspectives—Proceedings of the National Conference on Citizen Participation (Medford, Mass.: Tufts University Lincoln Filene Center for Citizenship and Public Affairs, 1979), especially “Participation from the Citizen Perspective” by David Cohen et al., pp. 63-71.Google Scholar
  10. 23.
    Lawrence Susskind, “Public Participation and Consumer Sovereignty in an Era of Cutback Planning,” in Edward Hanton et al., eds. New Directions for the Mature Metropolis (Cambridge, Mass.: Schenkman, 1980).Google Scholar
  11. 29.
    Saul Alinsky, Rules for Radicals (New York: Random House, 1971); the Center for Community Change is a nonprofit organization in Washington, D.C., that provides technical assistance to urban and rural community groups throughout the United States.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1983

Authors and Affiliations

  • Lawrence Susskind
  • Michael Elliott

There are no affiliations available

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