1st Edition

Participatory Spaces Under Urban Capitalism Contesting the Boundaries of Democratic Practices

By Markus Holdo Copyright 2024

    Can people use new participatory spaces to reclaim their rights as citizens and challenge structures of political power? This book carefully examines the constraints and possibilities for participatory governance under capitalism.

    To understand what is at stake in the politics of participation, we need to look beyond the values commonly associated with it. Citizens face a dilemma: should they participate, even if this helps to sustain an unjust system, or not participate, thereby turning down rare opportunities to make a difference? By examining the rationale behind democratic innovation and the reasons people have for getting involved, this book provides a theory of how citizens can use new democratic spaces to challenge political boundaries. Connecting numerous international case studies and presenting original research from Rosario, Argentina, this book offers a crucial corrective to previous research. What matters most is not the design of new models of participation nor is it the supposed radical imagination of political leaders. It is whether people use new spaces for participation to renegotiate what democracy means in practice.

    Bridging critical urban studies and democratic theory, this book will be of interest to researchers and students in the fields of democratic innovations, political economy and urban planning. It will also provide activists and practitioners of participatory democracy with important tools to expand spaces of grassroots democracy.

    The Open Access version of this book, available at http://www.taylorfrancis.com, has been made available under a CC BY Creative Commons Attribution (CC-BY) 4.0 International license.

    1. Participation and Power Relations: Can Democracy be Renegotiated?

    2. The Boundaries of Participation

    3. Is Participation Co-optation?

    4. Ethics and Deliberative Capital

    5. Power as Leverage

    6. A Theory of Renegotiation

    Appendix: Methodological Reflections



    Markus Holdo is Associate Professor of Political Science at Lund University, Sweden, where he teaches and does research on how citizens accomplish social change.

    Makus Holdo’s superb book shows how participatory institutions can be useful to contest urban power relations. Delving deeply into concrete practices of participatory budgeting, he brilliantly explores the constraints that global and financialized capitalism imposes over local politics. At the same time, Holdo illustrates how people take advantage of participatory reforms, renegotiate the terms of their involvement, and dispute the established political boundaries. 

    Patricia García-Espín, Universidad de Granada, author of Las Articulaciones de la Participación.