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Democracy and participation

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The meaning of democracy is complex and contested (Gaventa, 2006: 21), and yet at its heart lies a simple and commonly understood idea. Similarly, participation is a deceptively simple notion in principle but in practice seems to be understood in many different ways. This paper interrogates these two concepts and attempts to clarify the relationship between them. As a Thematic Review paper, it focuses on debates relevant to interpreting and enacting democracy and participation, such as that on alleged 'democratic deficits'. For reasons of brevity, the paper examines political decision making without reference to the different scales (local, national, etc) on which such decision making occurs.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: July 2011

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