Urban Development and the Paradox of Participation

Saturday, 21 July 2018: 11:00
Oral Presentation
Kazushi TAMANO, Tokyo Metropolitan University, Tokyo, Japan
Citizen involvement and participation have been particularly promoted in urban policies by international agencies since the 1990s to realize a sustainable development such as that described as New Urban Agenda. For instance, Participatory Budgeting in Porto Alegre and the Kerala People's Campaign for Decentralized Planning were successful in mobilizing and empowering the poor, who were previously excluded. Citizen involvement and participatory governance are globally adopted in urban development policies. It is a sort of "explosion of participation." It is, however, indicated that participation is a buzzword and that it often leads to a co-optation. Citizen involvement and participation dose not reduce an inequality; rather, they exclude confrontation. It is a problem of the Habermas-Mouffe debate or the works of Foucault.
This paper explores the consequences of participation through experience in Japanese urban policy from the 1970s to the 1980s. The Japanese government confronted a legitimacy crisis in a rapidly advancing economy that changed the living conditions of communities and led to many residents' movements and protests. We present the process and the result of citizen involvement and participation in Japanese urban policy. From this case study, we suggest "the paradox of participation" and the importance of "the gete-keeper problem." Consequent to advanced citizen participation, the power of bureaucratic administration becomes dominant unless politicians and the legislature retain their autonomy in decision making. If the gate-keeping functions of involvement and decision making are monopolized by the administrative body, urban development is depolicized, which leads to co-optation and exclusion. It is important to retain politics in order to deepen democracy through citizen participation in urban development.