Participatory Budgeting in the US: The Role of Key Actors in Shaping Turnout

Tuesday, July 15, 2014: 11:30 AM
Room: 301
Oral Presentation
Madeleine PAPE , Sociology, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, WI
Participatory budgeting (PB) has largely been studied in the context of the Global South, with particular attention given to the case of Porto Alegre.  Only in recent years has PB begun to gain traction in the United States (US), beginning with Chicago’s 49thward in 2009.  While the PB projects in the US resemble in some respects the familiar structure of Porto Alegre, the many unique contextual factors suggest that the American experience of PB is likely to be quite different. 

A central claim of democratic theorists is that PB provides opportunities for participation to citizens who are marginalized by or excluded from typical democratic processes (Fung and Wright, 2003). In the Porto Alegre case, high participation amongst poorer citizens led to a more egalitarian allocation of resources as well as the expansion of associations in civil society.  As PB moves north from the Global South, how is it being adapted, and how do outcomes vary?

In this paper I consider the interplay between state and civil society and their impact upon participation, since both sets of actors shape PB outcomes (Wampler, 2008).  I explore the case of Chicago, comparing the experiences of the four administrative districts that implemented PB in 2013.  Using data collected from participants across these sites, and an analysis of outreach efforts, I examine the correlation between whoparticipates and the engagement of civil society and the state.  The aim is to identify the actors that are driving the implementation of PB in the US, as well as their impact upon its success as an inclusive practice.

Fung, A. and Wright, E.O. (2003) Deepening Democracy. London: Verso.

Wampler, B. (2008) ‘When Does Participatory Democracy Deepen the Quality of Democracy? Lessons from Brazil.’ Comparative Politics 41(1):61-81.