Participation and the Construction of Sustainable Societies

From Rhetorical and Passive Participation to Emancipative Democratic Dynamics
  • Mário FreitasEmail author


There are very different meanings associated to the word participation and the concept of participation is used in very different situations and backgrounds, with very different objectives: (a) from very passive and/or manipulative senses (people are only informed or very indirectly eared throw the opinion emitted by their elected representatives); (b) to more extended, powerful and autonomic senses (that promote real conditions of participation both for individuals and communities and guarantee a real impact of individual/communitarian opinions in the decisions taken).

Based on a deep theoretical literature review and the analysis of Brazilian and Portuguese realities we argue that the generality of participatory processes related to territorial planning and development options going on in both countries can be classified in the lower levels of hierarchic participation models (manipulative or passive participation). In some cases we can identify the intention of matching intermediate levels (like functional participation), even though almost always in a very formal and incipient way of implementation. Higher levels (interactive, self-mobilized and autonomic models) are not frequent.

We will present our own conception of participation as a cultural issue and discuss it in the perspective of our spider model of sustainable development. We will defend the necessity of deeper forms of participation to construct more sustainable societies and different types of development. We will finish presenting the main dilemmas, constraints and/or stimuli for a real emancipatory participation.


Social Learning Free Market Public Participation Participatory Process Direct Democracy 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Geography Department, Environmental Studies Centre (NEA)Santa Catarina State University (UDESC)FlorianopolisBrasil

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