Citizen participation in planning: the relationship between objectives and techniques

Journal of the American Planning Association
J J Glass


While citizen participation has become a commonplace element in many planning efforts, both planners and citizens often assess the participatory elements as being unsatisfactory. The contention in this article is that not enough attention is being given to the design of participatory programs and that there is a particular failing in matching objectives to techniques. Five objectives of citizen participation are identified: information exchange, education, support building, supplemental decision making, and representational input. Then through the development of a typology of participatory mechanisms, techniques are matched with their most appropriate objectives. This relationship is further illustrated by examining four techniques in detail. The conclusions suggest that if the relationship between objectives and techniques is ignored in the design of a participatory program, the possibility of a successful program decreases.


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