ANALYSIS OF TWO ARTICLES: A LADDER OF CITIZEN PARTICIPATION AND THE NEW MT.EDEN
The article “A Ladder of Citizen Participation” by Sherry R Arnstein (1969) is about the various forms of civil participation in the cities. Arnstein defined eight levels of civil participation that could be observed in the USA in the 1960s. The author argues that very rarely in the USA the people truly participate in the urban processes. Instead there is widespread non-participation and tokenism of participation.
Arnstein defines the civil participation as a term for citizen power which enables the citizens that were excluded from decision making processes to be included in the future. If there is civil participation, it means that the people can determine how the goals and policies are set and programs are operated.
Further in the article Arnstein describes each of eight levels of civil participation: manipulation, therapy, informing, consultation, placation, partnership, delegated power, and citizen control. Therapy and manipulation do not enable the citizens to participate in the urban processes and in fact they take away all the power from them. On the contrary, citizen control and delegated power are the mechanisms of citizen power, but they do not happen very often.
This article is still relevant nowadays. The local governments became more transparent and less centralized. Nevertheless, very often civil participation does not result in the better urban processes. Therefore the elites or decision makers may benefit from absence of proper citizen control, delegated power or partnership. In addition, just as in 1969, there are many formalized surveys and consultations that are carried out by the local authorities and the citizens may be heard, but their views might not play a large impact on the decision-making. At the same there has been much progress in the issues of civil participation and the cities and towns have become much more inclusive than before.
The New Mt. Eden
The article “The New Mt. Eden” by Carol Lamberg (2004) is about the transformation of the area of the Bronx into a livable community and the importance of the resources and the management for the successful completion of the public projects in the cities. In the article, Lamberg describes in detail the problems which Settlement Housing Fund had to face during the renovation of 14 buildings and after their commissioning.
Lamberg does not provide any definition of the urban processes and civil participation, but she writes about how her organization cooperated with different stakeholders when the buildings were being renovated. The construction company, the non-profit organization Settlement Housing Fund and the local authorities effectively worked together, though there were some tensions between them. Then Lamberg writes about the approach that was applied to select the tenants. The main goal was to provide affordable housing to the different categories of people. The majority of the tenants were either homeless or low-income people, but who were expected to pay the rent in time.
In the second part of the article, Lamberg focuses on the community development programmes that helped to change the neighborhood. It is worth mentioning that in all of the community programmes the local people and youth were actively involved. There were also many educational programmes that helped young people prepare for studying at college. Lamberg concludes that the community development activities may lead to upward mobility.
The article shows that the cities that strive for inclusiveness shall think not only of the affordable housing projects, but also they should develop the community projects that will help the people in the problematic neighborhoods to become active citizens and have more civil power which will bring responsibility into the area in which they live. At the same time, the author is absolutely right that the key factors of successful development include professional management and sufficient resources.
Arnstein, S. A Ladder of Citizen Participation. JAIP, Vol. 35, No. 4, July 1969, pp. 216-224
Lamberg, C. The New Mt. Eden. Journal of Urban Regeneration & Renewal, Volume Nine,