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Equitable deliberative participation design: A call to use a lens of multidimensional power

Journal Title Perspectives on Public Management and Governance
Published Date March 31, 2022
Research Type
Authors Jill Clark


There is a long-standing call for the use of deliberative 
approaches in public participation—taking such forms as deliberative forums, deliberative polling, participatory budgeting, citizen juries, and collaborative planning—the merits of which have been written about extensively (Nabatchi 2010Neblo 2015Cooper, Bryer, and Meek 2006). Despite growing interest in deliberative techniques, scholars have critiqued deliberative participation for at least two reasons. First, it is well-established that public institutions that encourage public participation are not neutral spaces. Institutions can exclude people on the basis of a number of identities, including race, gender, ethnicity, immigration status, disability status, and income (Holley 2016). Second, any participation that occurs within an inequitable society can reinforce and even exacerbate inequity (Lee et al. 2015). To confront these challenges proactively, this essay argues that using a lens of multidimensional power-over is a useful way of examining deliberative participation design to reveal the mechanisms at play between participation and power-with, social equity, and outcomes of justice.