Participatory Democracy and Socialism: How to Extend Participatory Democracy from the Political to the Economic Sphere

Tuesday, July 15, 2014: 3:30 PM
Room: Booth 65
Oral Presentation
Gabriel HETLAND , Sociology, UC Berkeley, UC Berkeley Dept of Sociology, Berkeley, CA
The economic and political shortcomings of representative democracy have led many to search for alternative, more direct and participatory forms of democracy. This has led, in particular, to local-level experimentation with popular control over political decision-making, via institutions such as participatory budgeting, a practice giving citizens control over local budget decisions that has spread to more than a thousand cities worldwide. This paper explores the possibility of extending participatory control from the political to the economic sphere. I argue that a radical Left party with four characteristics can facilitate the construction of what I term emergent socialist hegemony. These characteristics are: internal democracy; links to popular movements; a prefigurative committment to democratic socialism; and links to/autonomy from the national state. This argument is illustrated by examining participatory control over political and economic decision-making in Torres, which has been called "Venezuela's first socialist city".